Kennebunk Town Clerk Joanna Moran and six helpers started counting ballots soon after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Although only 34 percent of the town’s registered voters turned out and five machines counted the 3,083 ballots automatically, the tally wasn’t complete until 2 a.m. Wednesday.

“The machines are wonderful, but we had more than 700 write-ins for 60 different people,” said Merton Brown, Kennebunk’s assistant town clerk.

Write-in campaigns and hand-counted ballots delayed some results Tuesday night, but municipal clerks say the process went relatively smoothly across the state.

Midafternoon Wednesday, South Portland City Clerk Susan Mooney, president of the Maine Town & City Clerks’ Association, had yet to hear from any members who had encountered problems.

Julie Flynn, deputy secretary of state in charge of the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, said there were a few jammed ballot machines, but nothing went seriously wrong during Tuesday’s voting.

Because primary elections involve more ballots than general elections, processing the results can take longer. Mooney said that in South Portland there were separate state candidate ballots for each of the city’s three legislative districts, for members of the Green Independent, Republican and Democratic parties.

“It is very time-consuming,” she said.

Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell didn’t finish the counting in her town until 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Among other things, the town was voting on its regional school district budget, which was adopted too late for ballots that could be counted by machines.

So the 3,500 ballots cast in the school referendum had to be counted by hand, by seven teams of two people who took batches of 50 ballots at a time and counted them twice.

“It was a long day,” Morrell said.

One of the two questions on the school ballot asked voters whether they wanted to continue the annual referendum on the budget. The overwhelming response was “yes.” Morrell said she will urge the regional school board to approve its next budget early enough to let her order ballots that can be counted by machine.

Communities have until 5 p.m. Friday to turn in their results to the Secretary of State’s Office, which must submit the totals to Gov. John Baldacci by 5 p.m. June 28.

Just how many communities will make the deadline is anybody’s guess, Flynn said. Some years, as many as 100 communities miss the deadline, and in other years there are only a handful of stragglers.

Communities aren’t penalized for missing the deadline, but usually there are a few phone calls back and forth with the state before the process is complete. If all else fails, the Maine State Police may be dispatched to communities to retrieve the results.

“But I have never had to (do that) in the 16 years I have been here,” Flynn said.

 

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]