November 6, 2012

Long lines, heavy turnout for Maine voters

Polling places opened at 6 a.m. to handle voter turnout that was expected to hit 70 to 80 percent of registered voters in the state.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

While there were long lines to vote early in the morning on Tuesday, Election Day turnout slowed to a steady pace in the afternoon as Mainers weighed in on the presidential race, as well as races for U.S. senator, the state’s two congressional seats, same-sex marriage, bond issues and local races.

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Kim Reed, right, and Michele Duval, both of Eliot, wave signs outside the Marshwood Middle School along Route 236 in Eliot as voters make their way to the polls Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Staff photo/Jill Brady

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Lincoln Paquet, 2, sits atop the shoulders of Jim Giroux while voting at the J. Richard Martin Community Center in Biddeford Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

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Polling places opened at 6 a.m. to handle voter turnout that was expected to hit 70 to 80 percent of registered voters in the state. Maine typically sees turnouts of more than 70 percent, or about 700,000 voters, in presidential election years.

The heavy turnout slowed election results in Portland, where people were still lined up to vote at 8 p.m., when polls closed. Those who were in line by 8 p.m. were allowed to cast a ballot.

In South Portland, turnout was about 81 percent.

Despite the heavy showing at the polls, absentee ballots were down from four years ago. Nearly 197,000 ballots were requested by Nov. 2, and about 182,000 have been returned, according to Megan Sanborn, a spokeswoman with the Secretary of State’s Office. That was down from 2008, when about 240,000 absentee ballots were cast.

Maine officials did not release statewide turnout figures Tuesday night. Sanborn said only that polls were busier than normal in the morning.

In 2008, President Obama took the state with 57.7 percent of the vote, or 421,923 votes, compared to Republican presidential contender John McCain, who received 295,273 votes.

In Portland, at 7:30 a.m., scores of voters stood in long lines that snaked around Woodfords Church. At one point, all four “register to vote here” seats were taken by people filling out forms. The line moved quickly and neighbors greeted each other and made small talk while waiting for about a half hour to vote.

At 9 a.m. at Freeport High School, there was no wait, but parking was in short supply, since school also was in session. The only delays for voters were for those sampling the array of baked goods laid out to support a number of local causes. Volunteers also were taking orders for holiday delivery of wreaths and citrus, selling raffle tickets and surveying residents about recreational needs.

For many voters around the state, the issues that brought them out to the polls were the next president and same-sex marriage.

Allison Walker brought her daughters, 10-year-old Ellie and 8-year-old Sophia, when she went to vote at Scarborough High School, “so they could see the process and hopefully vote when they have the chance,” she said. Both girls had already cast mock ballots in elections at school.

Walker said she was focused on the presidential election and Question 1, which would allow same-sex couples to marry. She voted yes on Question 1. She voted for Mitt Romney because of the state of the economy, she said.

“I don’t think the last four years have shown a lot of progress,” she said. “I don’t see it’s gotten any better.”

Sue Bowker, a small business owner, said she voted for Obama because “Romney scares me.”
“As a woman I feel (Romney) is trying to control my body and my personal space,” she said.

Scarborough resident Ryan O’Leary said he voted yes on Question 1 because “Maine is old-school on a lot of things, but I think this is something we can be in this century with.”

Louise Lawrence, who voted with her husband of 30 years, said she voted no on Question 1 because “the sanctity of marriage needs to be preserved.”

“I think civil unions are perfectly adequate for people who live alternative lifestyles,” she said.

A steady stream of voters – many with young children in tow – headed into the Scarborough High School gym to vote late Tuesday afternoon. Town Clerk Tody Justice said the busiest time for voting was early in the morning, but turnout in Scarborough may be down from the last presidential election.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Volunteer Joan Macisso hands a ballot to a voter during voting at the East End Elementary School Tuesday morning in Portland on November 6, 2012. Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

Tim Greenway

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This sign is visible to motorists along Route 236 in Eliot Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Staff photo/Jill Brady

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Volunteer election clerk Matt Fitzgerald collect ballots and hands out stickers to voters at the East End Elementary School in Portland on November 6, 2012. Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

Tim Greenway

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High voter turnout at the East End Elementary School in Portland on Tuesday morning November 6, 2012. Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

Tim Greenway

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A voter enters the East End Elementary School in Portland on November 6, 2012. Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

Tim Greenway

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Doris and Julian Lambert look over their ballots while waiting in line to vote at the J. Richard Martin Community Center in Biddeford Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer



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