Judy Bertram casts her vote at the Falmouth High School. Hand sanitizing stations and markings on the floor to keep social distancing were in place, as well as one-way foot traffic through the polling area. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

FALMOUTH— Residents elected Jennifer Libby, Christopher Hickey and Matthew Pines to the School Committee and passed a $39.5 million school budget, according to unofficial election results.

Libby, who was the only candidate listed on the ballot, won with 3,168 votes. Pines pulled 468 votes and Pines garnered 378 votes through a tag-team write-in campaign.

“Given the difficulty of educating voters (about the write-in campaign) under the circumstances I am happy with the votes we are able to collect,” Hickey said. “Moving forward, I think Matt and I belong on the board, we did a good job reaching out to voters to educate them best we could, and here on out it’s focusing on the work of the board and listening to town residents and working with the administration.”

Libby did not return messages seeking comment by The Forecaster’s deadline. Anne Rutherford, a fourth write-in candidate, lost her bid to get elected, but write-ins that did not make the ballot were not included in the tallies.

A number of voters who spoke with The Forecaster on Election Day at Falmouth High School were unaware any of the write-in candidates were running.

“I didn’t know about any write-ins, but so I just voted for the one choice,” Bruce Hilfrank said.

“I saw the signs, but didn’t know too much about it so went with (Jennifer Libby),” Matt Anson said.

Volunteers at the polls wore face shields for in-person voters weighing in on candidates for the School Committee and budget. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

Voters overwhelmingly approved the school budget by a vote of 2,971 to 503.

“I voted for the budget because if it got this far, it’s been vetted by the people we voted for to do so,” Melanie Collins said. “It’s important to support our schools.”

The $39.5 million school budget includes a $789,447 increase in expenditures, but school officials say the budget will have no impact on the tax rate.

Absentee ballots were record high this year, Town Clerk Ellen Planer said, with 3,031 absentee votes counted by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

That’s a “big jump” from 800 absentee ballots in 2016, the last time a primary vote took place during a presidential election year, she said.

The number of write-in candidates meant for late results, Planer said, which were posted online just before 1 a.m.

“I left an hour after polls closed, a group of seriously amazing and dedicated volunteers were still hand tallying the thousands of write-in votes,” Hickey said.

Absentee ballots were high in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Planer said.

In response to the pandemic, floor markings around the poll area kept voters at least 6 feet apart, with hand sanitation stations readily available.

Poll workers wore face shields and gloves with plastic dividers at sign-in stations. Every other booth was closed off as well, to maintain safety precautions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chance Viles / American Journal

Other measures included one-use pens for voting, one-way foot traffic and plastic shields for ballot clerks; every other polling station was closed to maintain social distancing.

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