Updated on Oct. 19 at 12:45 p.m.

Boston residents kicked off two weeks of early voting in their state by heading to polling places across the city this weekend — including the Jackson Mann Community Center in Brighton, where Simone Person cast her first-ever vote at the age of 48.

“You know, I’m a Black woman, and people are talking about Black Lives Matter, and this has been happening for a long time,” Person said. “In this country, we elected [Donald] Trump into office. Are we f*****g crazy? And I just realized, if I don’t vote, who am I to say something about society? I can’t say anything.”

A Brighton resident and single mother, Person said this election made her feel helpless, and voting was the only way she could cope with that feeling.

“It's the little things that make up the big things that make change,” she said. “And I said, I need to get my a** up and vote. Today's the day I need to vote. I can't tell my daughter what kind of world she could have, if I don't do something to help it.”

On Saturday, Boston voters cast 17,259 ballots at 27 locations across the city, according to Mayor Marty Walsh’s office. Nearly 4,500 of those votes were cast at Fenway Park, where the first day of early voting saw long lines of voters wrapped around the block.

Outside Boston, voters showed up at polling places throughout the weekend for early voting: In Worcester, 3,029 voters turned out to vote early, with a total of 17,835 votes cast, including mail-in and absentee ballots. In Quincy, 1401 voters showed up to polling locations on Saturday and Sunday, and in Salem, 948 ballots were submitted to the election department.

Dorchester resident Beya Jimenez opted out of voting at a closer location in her neighborhood and joined the line at Fenway on Sunday, “because it is a historic election. Why not make it a point, make it a splash?” she said. “I'm really excited that Fenway decided to do this. I think it's a testament to where our city of Boston is, in recognizing the importance of this election. It’s not one that we want to sit out.”

Fenway Park in Boston has become an early voting site, where residents can cast in-person ballots for the 2020 general election. Photo taken on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020.
Meredith Nierman GBH News

While members of the crowd waited in line, messages in English and Spanish were broadcast over the ballpark’s PA system, reminding voters to maintain a distance of 6 feet from one another. “Thank you for casting your early ballot at Fenway Park,” the PA announcement declared to some of the city’s 423,668 registered voters.

Boston resident Amy Mahler took a short walk from her home on Beacon Street on Sunday to cast her vote. “To vote at historic Fenway Park, I was already going to vote, but I’m just so much more excited to be here,” she said. During this election, Mahler says the city has done “a great job” to make voting more accessible. “I think especially the expansion of the ballot boxes has been hugely helpful, especially for those who should be staying home, or it's safer for them to stay at home.”

Back at Jackson Mann, Brighton resident Mark Beeman dropped off his mail-in ballot in the ballot drop-box outside the polling location, afraid to depend on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver his ballot in time.

“Online it said that, to go from here to downtown Boston, this letter could take 10 days. And I just thought I would walk there today,” Beeman said. “It's a little bit frustrating to think that it would take more than 10 days to get there on time. That's kind of scary.”

Beeman said he’s concerned for residents who don’t feel safe to vote in-person, or don’t have the ability to file their ballots at drop-off locations across the city. “I hope those voters who have their ballots in hand now can put them in the mail as soon as possible, or they have some sort of means, somebody in their lives who is able to pick it up and do the drop-off for them,” Beeman said. “There is a mobility issue, and I hope that there are services out there that help those who are immobile to also get their vote counted.”

Marjorie Levin, a 64-year-old Brighton resident, said she wanted to avoid going inside a polling location to vote and was hoping to mail her ballot, but chose to drop it outside Jackson Mann. “I just didn’t want to take a chance, this election is too important,” Levin said. “There was a chance that it would be lost, or that the mail would be too slow.”

Levin said the primary election in September was a much more challenging process, with fewer early voting locations and ballot drop-off boxes. “It felt like there weren't a lot of places to vote early, and I couldn't find the drop-off,” Levin said. “But it seemed much easier this time around.”

Elizabeth Taft, a 24-year-old Brighton resident, said she requested a mail-in ballot that never came. So, she opted for early voting in-person, as she had done during the September primary. “The primary was Sept. 1, but I was moving on Sept. 1,” Taft said. “It would probably have been better if the primary had not been the day that most people move.”

Mary Mylroie brought her husband Robert and their two children, Vera, 3, and Oliver, 8 months, to Jackson Mann on Sunday, hoping to avoid a big crowd and have their whole family take part in the process. “We don’t have child care, so being able to go on a weekend is great,” Mylroie said. “This was the best day where we could come as a family with the kids and go together without having to miss work.”

Robert Mylroie said the family planned to assess the location to see if there was a line, and possibly return on another weekend before the Oct. 30 deadline if it seemed too busy.

“We didn’t want to leave it to the last minute on voting day,” he said. “And we didn't want to have naptime or meltdowns interfere with voting.”

GBH News Production Engineer David Goodman contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this article spelled Beya Jimenez's name incorrectly.