LEWISTON — Twin Cities ballot clerks Tuesday were doing their best to keep occupied as they waited on voters who were few and far between as the major parties selected their candidates for upcoming U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives races.
At Lewiston's Multi-Purpose Center, where the city's wards 4, 5 and 7 voted, clerks were at different registration tables and alternating between helping voters, playing Sudoku, doing word searches and one was even playing solitaire.
"It's been a slow trickle all day long," said Ward 5 ballot clerk Jay Calnan.
Lewiston City Clerk Kathy Montejo said she wasn't too surprised by the light turnout as the second largest block of Lewiston voters, those who have not enrolled in a party, essentially had nothing to vote for.
Montejo said she wasn't willing to predict what the overall turnout would be but that one indication that interest was low was that the city only received 150 absentee ballots.
Some of the light interest likely was due to a lack of local names on the ballot. Montejo said only one the candidates in the U.S. Senate race, Republican candidate Scott D'Amboise, was truly "local."
"If you drove around Lewiston and you looked at candidate signs you saw more Republican signs than you did Democratic signs," Montejo said. "In a typical election Lewiston would be plastered with Democratic signs."
Registered Republicans in Lewiston are the third largest voting block behind unenrolled and Democratic voters, Montejoy said.
She also agreed that Republicans — because of the late retirement announcement of incumbent U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe in February — had a very truncated primary season and little time to really get their campaigns rolling.
In Auburn, ballot clerks were seeing a similar turn-out pattern. At the Auburn Middle School, the Ward 2 polling station, only 180 voters had cast ballots as of 3 p.m.
Clerks there said they weren't that surprised the turnout was low, and like their peers across the river ,they were doing what they could to keep their minds occupied.
Votes were being counted at the time of this posting.