November 3, 2013

How Maine towns stack up at the voting booth

Which towns have the best turnout, or have the most Republicans or Democrats? The results are finally in.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Kennebunkport Town Clerk April Dufoe does everything she can to encourage voting in her town. And it shows.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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When asked for a possible explanation, Jackson recalled another story.

Back in the day, he’s been told, all the mill owners were Republican. Voting was done openly and they made sure to observe. Feeling pressure, workers voted to appease their employers.

“When it went to secret ballot, they kind of revolted,” Jackson said.

Or so he’s been told.

“I don’t know if that’s accurate,” he quickly added.

But it makes sense and carries on today in Maine’s logging communities, he said.

“Republicans support large landowners, Democrats support workers,” he said. “It doesn’t get any clearer than that.”


Along Route 179, up from Ellsworth, is a cluster of houses that make up most of the town of Osborn.

“We only have 69 voters and that’s with horses and dogs and cats,” said Diane Haskell, who’s in charge of accounts payable at Magoon’s Transportation.

The actual number is 51 and, of them, 33 are Republican, giving the tiny Hancock County town the largest share of GOP voters of anywhere in the state at 65 percent.

“It’s kind of shocking to me,” said John Reed, whose family owns Reed Firewood and Custom Lumber in town.

But then again, he was hard-pressed to think of anyone from Osborn who wasn’t a Republican.

“I am, my father is, my mother is, my sister is, her boyfriend is,” he said.

Sandy Rogers said she found out that most townspeople were Republican when she became the town clerk.

“I honestly didn’t care before then,” she said.

Rogers, who also works at Magoon’s, speculated with Haskell last week about why Osborn residents lean the way they do.

They reached a conclusion quickly; it came down to money.

“Democrats like to spend lots of money,” Haskell said.

Rogers corrected her.

“No, they like to give it away,” she said.


The town of Buckfield has a slogan on its website: “Where good people live.”

Don’t dare try to tell them otherwise.

“Most of the people, I’ve found in the town, have very strong opinions,” said Selectwoman Martha Catevenis.

And those opinions, she said, don’t necessarily align with one political school of thought.

“They’re not party positions,” she said.

Although the town, outside of Lewiston, is represented by Democrats in the state Senate and House of Representatives, more voters are registered as Republican.

Most, however, are unenrolled – 54 percent of them, more than any other town in the state.

To Catevenis, that statistic is proof of something she already knew, that people in Buckfield are “very, very independent,” she said.

To Tony Bachelder, it means something different.

“I feel that, really, it don’t matter what party you are, they’re all a bunch of rip-offs. It’s the one who can give you the best story,” he said.

Bachelder, a beekeeper, said a lot of Buckfield residents are self-employed and likely vote the way they think their business will benefit most.

Several of those businesses are listed on the town’s website. There’s insulation, excavation, a garage and a gun shop.

Calls to a couple of them couldn’t confirm Bachelder’s theory. One owner declined to comment. Another hung up the phone.

Bachelder, a registered Democrat who tends to vote Republican, admitted he’s one of the more outspoken people in town.

He associates residents’ lack of party affiliation with frustration more than open-mindedness.

“Everybody’s looking for change and we ain’t getting it,” he said.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: lbridgers@pressherald.com Twitter: lesliebridgers


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