YARMOUTH — Neither the early hour nor 30-degree temperatures deterred residents from lining up for the opening of the polls in Yarmouth and Falmouth on Tuesday.

A line of people wait at 5:45 a.m. on Election Day to enter Yarmouth High School and vote at 6 a.m. Brielle Hardy / For The Forecaster

Meg Harpool, of Yarmouth, who was on duty at the polls from 6-11 a.m., said the energy among the voters was both “positive and hopeful.”

Harpool spent her shift greeting and guiding people to the line, enforcing social distancing and handing out masks. The length of the line shortened significantly after 7 a.m., Harpool said, and by 8:15 a.m. voters were able to walk directly into the high school without waiting.

“Everyone was very respectful of the safety protocol Yarmouth put in place to provide a safe and successful voting experience,” said Harpool.

As of Nov. 2, Yarmouth had 8,272 registered voters, had given out 5,100 absentee ballots and received 4,878 absentee ballots in return.

The first hour of polling at Falmouth High School brought in a large number of voters as well, with the line trailing up the school’s access road to the back parking lot.

Linda Morris, who has been a Falmouth resident for over 20 years, was optimistic as she waited in line in Falmouth at 7 a.m.

“I feel like it’s Christmas morning,” Morris said.

Asked what was weighing on her mind the most as she entered the polling place, she said COVID-19.

 Morris said she opted to vote in-person rather than submit an absentee ballot, “so there would be no chance that my vote wouldn’t count.”  

At Freeport High School, Nate Hanson was voting in-person so he could see his old school one more time. The 2020 graduate, whose senior year was abruptly cut short due to the pandemic, is a first-time voter this year.

Our generation has been so strongly encouraged to get out and vote that I feel like it’s almost disrespectful if we don’t. This (election) year is so important and it’s going to take all of us to make a change, which starts with voting,” Hanson said. 

As of Nov. 3, there were 7,650 registered voters in Freeport. 4,983 absentee ballots had been requested, and 4,816 had been returned. Compared to the 2016 election, Freeport now has 718 more registered voters and saw 2,557 more absentee ballot requests.

The front entrance to North Yarmouth’s Wescustogo Hall and Community Center had markers for a nonexistent line at 9 a.m.

Distancing markers were not needed when the polls opened in North Yarmouth at Wescutogo Hall and Community Center. Voters later had to be reminded to stay apart, town officials said. Brielle Hardy / For The Forecaster

North Yarmouth Town Clerk Debbie Grover said the voter flow was similar to what Harpool described in Yarmouth, with a rush as polls opened and a decline throughout the morning.

“We’re lucky to have an abundance of volunteers helping us out today. There’s been no shortage in staff,” said Grover.

North Yarmouth had 3,643 registered voters as of Nov. 2. Absentee requests more than doubled with 2,060 compared to 1,027 in 2016. So far this year, 1,952 absentee ballots have been returned.

Despite multiple displays of COVID-19 safety rules both in and outside of the building, Grover said the staff often had to verbally reinforce 6-foot distancing. Once reminded, however, voters were “polite and understanding about it,” Grover added. 

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