LEWISTON — Some showed up to vote for president. Some for same-sex marriage. And others just for the thrill of casting a ballot.
Whatever the reason, Mainers voted in droves Tuesday.
"I felt like, finally, I get the chance to make my opinion count, so I wanted it to count," said Rahma Odowa, 18, as she stood in line with two dozen others to register to vote at Longley Elementary School in Lewiston.
The Maine Secretary of State's Office is not expected to release official voter turnout numbers until the end of the week, but spokeswoman Megan Sanborn estimated about 70 percent of Maine voters turned out for this election. Maine averages 68 to 74 percent voter turnout during presidential elections; in 2008, turnout was just under 72 percent.
Traffic at Lewiston's four polling places began early and remained steady throughout the day. At Longley, which served wards 4, 5 and 7, a line began forming before the polls opened. By 7 a.m., that line snaked around the corner and out the door.
"We're probably going to triple what we normally do," said Ward 7 clerk Yvette Silva, who has worked at Lewiston polling places for 20 years.
By 3:30 p.m., her ward had seen nearly 1,000 voters. Silva believed many of those were drawn to the polls by the presidential election. Some couldn't contain their enthusiasm.
"One woman voted for four people for president," Silva recalled. "She said, 'I want all of them.' I said, 'I'm sorry, you can't have all of them.'"
Lewiston City Clerk Kathy Montejo said the city's voting booths were 90 percent full at every polling place she toured Tuesday. Part of that was voter turnout, but she believed part of that was due to the lengthy local ballot.
"It's taking them 10 minutes to vote," she said.
A line also began forming before the polls opened at Auburn Hall, the polling place for that city's Ward 3, though that line — about seven people — was dramatically shorter than the one at Longley in Lewiston. Traffic remained steady in Auburn throughout the day, with more than 5,300 people voting by 4 p.m.
Adam Gendreau, 20, voted in his first presidential election Tuesday, though it was Maine's same-sex marriage referendum that drew him to the polls.
"That's something I strongly believe in," he said.
Early crowds and high turnout weren't limited to the Twin Cities. In Livermore Falls, a line ran down the hallway and out the front door of the Town Office when the polls opened at 8 a.m. That line disappeared about an hour later.
"It's about the same as four years ago, at least as steady," said Dawn Young, registrar of voters.
At 11 a.m., Dixfield ballot warden Theresa Hemingway pointed toward the filled voting booths and a line of people waiting to vote. "This is how it's been all morning. It's great," she said.
Hemingway was thankful that Dixfield borrowed a computerized ballot machine from the state to count the state ballots.
"It's awesome!" she said. "If we didn't have this machine, it'd be after 1 o'clock in the morning before we got home."
Roxbury Tax Collector and Treasurer Renee Hodsdon called her town's voter turnout "very good." About 150 of the town's 328 registered voters had cast ballots by 4:30 p.m., with another 60 casting absentee ballots, a number "better than we've ever done," Hodsdon said.
Although polling places seemed almost universally busy, some officials said they saw greater turnout in 2008, during that presidential election.
Experts have said turnout is often lower during presidential elections that feature an incumbent.
"I don't think it is as busy as it was four years ago, but it is steady," said Jay Town Clerk Ronda Palmer.
A little before 2 p.m., 934 voters had cast ballots in Jay, and the town had received about 583 absentee ballots. Jay has about 3,400 registered voters.
Staff writers Donna Perry and Terry Karkos contributed to this report.