In a historic and unusual mid-term election that exposed stark divides in a deeply polarized nation, Martha’s Vineyard voters threw their support behind Democratic candidates across the state and region Tuesday, helping elect the first-ever Democrat as Cape and Islands district attorney and backing attorney general Maura Healey in her history-making bid for governor.

Voter turnout was healthy — more than 50 per cent — in every Island town despite a relative dearth of local races, with Islanders also strongly backing Andrea Campbell as the first Black female Massachusetts attorney general.

Complete town-by-town results appear on the Gazette website.

In a tight local contest that saw significant fundraising on both sides, Island voters strongly supported Democrat Robert Galibois as the new Cape and Islands district attorney over Republican candidate Daniel Higgins.

Mr. Galibois, a former assistant district attorney and defense attorney from Barnstable, declared victory in the race late Tuesday night, even as votes continued to trickle in from the Cape. Mr. Galibois handily won every town on Martha’s Vineyard, obtaining 76 per cent of the vote Islandwide. He also won the majority of towns off-Island, with only Sandwich and Bourne narrowly siding with Mr. Higgins, according to vote totals carried in the Boston Globe. The elected Cape and Islands district attorney seat has not been held by a Democrat since it separated from the New Bedford district attorney’s office in 1971. Five-term Republican incumbent Michael O’Keefe had served in the seat for two decades before Mr. Galibois’s victory Tuesday night.

Mr. Higgins confirmed that he conceded the race at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday night. He said he was proud of his campaign, and thanked his supporters.

"I’m grateful for the support I received from the community, including the law enforcement and legal community on the Cape and Islands," Mr. Higgins said. "I wish Mr. Galibois success moving forward."

In other local races, Vineyard voters favored incumbent Democrat Congressman Bill Keating over his Republican challenger Jesse Brown, and went heavily for incumbent Cape and Islands state Sen. Julian Cyr, a Democrat, over Republican opponent Christopher Lauzon. Rep. Dylan Fernandes and Sheriff Bob Ogden, both Democrats, were re-elected without opposition.

Mr. Keating won the Vineyard with 79 per cent of the vote, outpacing a broader regional performance that saw him hover around 60 per cent. Mr. Cyr also easily defeated his challenger, both on and off the Vineyard, garnering 78 per cent of the vote on Island and 64 per cent in total.

Tisbury voters eschewed a long tradition of narrow votes on alcohol questions, easily passing a ballot measure that would allow restaurants to serve alcohol without food by a nearly two-to-one margin, 1,317 to 626.

The ballot question caps nearly a decade of gradually liberalizing alcohol policies in the historically dry town. In 2009, the town approved serving beer and wine with food at restaurants after the first vote failed in a tie one year earlier. Five years ago, in 2017, voters narrowly passed a measure that allowed other alcohol sales with food.

Tuesday’s measure will now allow restaurants with 30 or more patrons to serve alcohol without an accompanying meal until 11 p.m.

Restaurant owner JB Blau, who had campaigned for Question 5, eagerly awaited results at the Tisbury emergency services facility Tuesday night. After it was confirmed that the measure had passed, he said offering alcohol without food in restaurants would help keep tourists in town, providing needed business and revenue.

“This is a win for Tisbury,” Mr. Blau said. “I think that the vote today shows that the town trusts the license holders. The quaintness of Tisbury isn’t going to change.”

Oak Bluffs voters also easily approved their town-specific ballot question, a debt exclusion that will authorize the town to move forward with a $26 million wastewater facility expansion.

The neck-and-neck nature of three statewide ballot questions was mirrored on Martha’s Vineyard, with Island voters narrowly voting in favor of a four per cent surtax on any income over $1 million. All Vineyard towns voted in favor of Question 1 except Edgartown, which voted against it, 1,059-999. Islandwide, Question 1 received 53 per cent of the vote, while statewide the vote total hovered around 52 per cent, just enough for it to narrowly pass. 

Vineyarders also voted in favor of keeping in place a law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, with 5,862 yes votes and 2,961 no votes. The measure passed statewide with about 54 per cent of the vote.

A question that would have changed state liquor license law to allow chain stores to increase their number of liquor licenses was voted down with about 55 per cent of the vote statewide and 54 per cent of the vote on the Island.

Another ballot question that pertained to dental insurance was easily approved throughout the state and on Martha’s Vineyard.

Vineyard voters strongly backed Maura Healey in her candidacy for governor. The state attorney general scooped up 79 per cent of the vote on Martha’s Vineyard, outpacing her otherwise impressive statewide performance that saw her win about 66 per cent of the vote over Republican challenger Geoff Diehl. Ms. Healy will only be the second Democratic governor in three decades, and the first woman and openly gay person to hold the state’s top office.

In Island-specific races, voters returned eight incumbent members to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission: Jeff Agnoli, Clarence "Trip" Barnes, Christina Brown, Fred Hancock, Ben Robinson, Doug Sederholm, Linda Sibley and Jay Grossman. A write-in candidate, Carole Vandal of Aquinnah, was expected to fill the ninth at-large seat. Six candidates whose names appeared on the ballot for Dukes County Commission were all handily elected: incumbents Tristan Israel, Donald Leopold, Christine Todd and Richard Wharton and newcomers James Klingensmith and Doug Ruskin. A seventh seat was expected to be filled by write-in candidate Juli Vanderhoop of Aquinnah.

Roxanne Ackerman, Robert Lionette, Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter, Alex Salop and James Newman were elected to the Up Island School Committee.

On a bright, crisp fall day Tuesday, Vineyard voters began lining up as soon as polling stations opened at 7 a.m., and town clerks saw a steady flow for the remainder of the day. Early and absentee voting was also strong, leaving towns with boxes of paper ballots to process.

“It’s been crazy all day,” West Tisbury town clerk Tara Whiting said after the polls closed and unofficial results had begun rolling out. In West Tisbury, about 600 early ballots were cast.

In Edgartown 1,000 early and absentee ballots were cast, according to constable Scott Ellis. “It was very busy . . . I would have expected a lot less in an election like this where it’s not even presidential,” he said.

Edgartown town clerk Karen Medeiros also took note of the strong turnout.

“It went really well. Turnout was a lot better than the primaries,” she said.

Martha’s Vineyard saw 50 per cent voter turnout or higher across the Island, with turnout as high as 66 per cent in Chilmark. Although the number of registered voters has increased significantly since 2018, turnout was generally lower than midterm elections four years prior, with most towns down by about 10 per cent, according to town reports. Island turnout hovered at around 56 per cent of approximately 16,600 registered voters.

That didn’t make things easier Tuesday for Tisbury town clerk Hillary Conklin, who said the stream of voters was so steady that the town still had hundreds of mail-in ballots to process by the time polls closed at 8 p.m. Tisbury didn’t finish counting votes until long past 10 p.m. In Chilmark, where ballots are hand-counted, the night stretched into the wee hours of Wednesday.

“We’re only just getting started,” Ms. Conklin said after announcing the last votes of the night. “And it’s been a long day.”