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Voters turning out in numbers

3 mins read


FARMINGTON – If you want to avoid the crush, Town Clerk Leanne Pinkham recommended voting from 1 to 3 p.m. or 5 to 7 p.m. today.

“Our busiest times are at noon, 3 to 5 p.m., when the teachers get out and more college students come, and at the last minute,” she said. All polls in Maine close at 8 p.m.

When Pinkham and her ballot clerk crew arrived at the Farmington Community Center at 6 a.m. this morning to make final preparations, voters were already waiting. Apparently they thought polls opened here at 6 a.m., she said. Some places in Maine they do open then, but here it’s 9 a.m. A few couldn’t wait to vote so she offered them absentee ballots and allowed for an early, same-day absentee vote.

At 9 a.m., a line of voters wrapped around the building. By 10:30 a.m., 500 people had voted and 1,256 absentee ballots were cast. In the last presidential election four years ago, Pinkham said about 3,700 registered voters in Farmington cast their ballots. She expects more in this hot election year.

She hopes the 4,100 ballots she has on hand will be enough. If not, she’ll go to her absentee ballot reserve.

Watching the voters stream in, she noted there were a lot of University of Maine at Farmington students who are voting. In a campus-held voter drive, 300 voter cards were turned in at the town office. She was swamped yesterday when a flood of UMF students arrived to do a little last minute absentee voting. And at mid-morning, every other voter appeared to be a student.

With five ballot clerks and one for new voter registrants who were signed up in a room at the entrance by several volunteers, things were running smoothly. Booths were all occupied with only a few waiting to vote. That may all change when many arrive on their lunch hour or after work to vote.

New this year is the number of poll watchers. Sitting behind the ballot clerks, six observers kept a careful eye on the scene. Pinkham said it’s not unusual to have poll watchers in a presidential election year, it’s just that the number this year is much higher.  

The expectation of a higher turnout can only be helped with the unseasonably warm, 65-degree temperature and clearing skies today.  

 

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