Voter turnout high throughout region

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AUBURN — There weren’t many parking spaces Tuesday morning at Washburn Elementary School where Ward 1 residents vote.

The same was true at voting places all over.

In Livermore, Administrative Assistant Amy Byron said the town had registered more new voters than she ever remembered.

In Kingfield, voters were lined up at the door at 6:30 a.m.
“Today’s turnout has been tremendous, much heavier than in other midterm elections,” said Kingfield Town Manager Leanna Targett. “It’s been nonstop all day.”
In Auburn, voting was “very steady. We’re busier than I expected,” City Clerk Susan Clements-Dallaire said. Typically, Auburn’s gubernatorial elections get about a 60 percent voter turnout. She predicted a 65 percent voter turnout by the time the polls closed.

Lewiston’s election workers at Longley Elementary School where three wards vote were also seeing a high turnout.

“It’s been very busy. We are very pleased to see the turnout,” said veteran election worker Irene MacDougall. “The parking lot’s full. We’re doing good.”

When the polls first opened “we were busy the first hour.” The pace slowed, then around 11:30 “it’s picked up again.” Compared to the usual non-presidential election, “this is much more active.”

With this election’s highly charged atmosphere, Lewiston voter Jim Mercier said voting is important “to make sure we get out and get our voices heard.”

He supported Republican candidates, voting for Shawn Moody for governor and “definitely (Bruce) Poliquin” for Congress. Mercier said he favors candidates with a conservative fiscal view. “I’m not so conservative that I don’t care about other people or immigrants,” he said. His concern is “how are we going to pay for all that?”

In Auburn, Jay W. Jones hoped to be part of a blue wave supporting Democrats.

Jones voted wearing a “V for Vendetta” mask on top of his head. The mask, he said, represents “resistance. I want to make America America again. The roads get built, schools stocked with good teachers, fresh air, clean water. People who aren’t playing funny with funny money.”

There was a time, Jones said, “that we needed Republicans to be the business heads to tell the dreamers” what can and can’t be afforded. “Now Republicans are just mean.”

Senior citizen Joanne Cyr of Auburn said she voted for Janet Mills for governor, Jared Golden for Congress. “I don’t like Poliquin at all. Golden seems to be honest. And we need new blood,” Cyr said.

As for the state’s attorney general and her bid for governor, Cyr said if Mills “could stand eight years of Paul LePage, she can do anything.”

Georgette St. Pierre also voted for Democrats.

“I voted for Gov. Mills,” she said.

“She’s optimistic,” said Ron St. Pierre, referring to his wife calling the candidate “governor” before votes were counted.

Alan Michael Frasier of Lewiston said that as a veteran, “it’s my civic duty to vote.” He voted for Bruce Poliquin for Congress, Shawn Moody for governor. “It was a hard decision. I actually like a lot of what Janet Mills had to offer.”.

VOTING INTEREST BY NEW MAINERS

Abdi Abdalla was at Lewiston’s Longley school helping new Mainers vote. “If they need an interpreter, if they have a question,” he said.

He estimated that Lewiston-Auburn has about 1,500 immigrants who have become citizens and are voting. Interest in voting is high among the new Mainers, Abdalla said. “They want to participate. They want their voices to be heard, just like anybody else.”

In Auburn, Hamila Abdi voted while bringing along her 3-year-old granddaughter, who wore her grandmother’s “I voted today” sticker. Through interpreter ZamZam Mohamud, Abdi said she voted for Golden, Mills and King. She also supported the bonds for education programs, highways and infrastructure, the woman said.

First-time voter Jacqueline Jones, 19, of Auburn said she voted for Mills, Golden and U.S. Senate Democrat Zak Ringelstein. She researched what Ringelstein stood for. It clicked with her beliefs, she said.

In addition to busy lines at the polls Tuesday, early voting was higher than usual, election workers said.

Lisbon Town Clerk Twila Lycette joked Monday that so many people voted early, she didn’t know if anyone would show up on Election Day.

In Auburn, Clements-Dallaire said Auburn had given out 3,300 absentee ballots, more than in the last gubernatorial election, when 2,300 early ballots went out.

Lewiston City Clerk Kathy Montejo said that of Lewiston’s 26,879 registered voters, the city issued 5,325 absentee ballots. For the previous gubernatorial election the city gave out 3,544 absentee ballots. “The popularity of absentee voting is increasing quite a bit,” Montejo said.

As of Monday, 1,955 Lewiston voters had voted at City Hall. In all, 4,770 ballots had been returned.

More ballots are expected in the mail, Montejo said, but said those arriving after 8 p.m. Tuesday would not be counted.

By Monday night, although official numbers had not been calculated, city officials said over 10,000 voters had voted in Auburn out of 15,500 registered voters—around 66 percent.

VOTING HEAVY IN THE REGION

In Jay, Town Clerk Ronda Palmer said, “We had a line at 8 a.m. I had to hook up a second ballot machine.” Jay processed close to 500 absentee ballots Saturday and had more to process Tuesday, Palmer said.

In Bethel, Town Clerk Christen Mason said turnout was “very good.” Bethel had about the same number of requests for early-voting ballots as it did during the 2016 presidential election, Mason said.

By noon in Newry, a quarter of registered voters had voted, Town Administrator Amy Bernard said. “We’re seeing a very good voter turnout.”

Ditto for Wilton, Chesterville and Livermore, where officials said early voting and Election Day voting was heavy.

Pamela Griswold, town clerk for Chesterville and New Sharon, said the number of absentee ballots taken out and returned were what she’d expect in a presidential election.
“The turnout has been incredible,” said Livermore Town Clerk Renda Guild. “To see our community come out and vote has been awesome.”
Staff Writers Donna Perry, Alison Aloisio, Samuel Wheeler, Pamela Harnden and Dee Menear contributed to this report. 

The polls at Longley Elementary School in Lewiston seemed unusually busy, according to election workers. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

The polling location at Longley Elementary in Lewiston was busy with voters in late morning on Tuesday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Bates College students register to vote at the Lewiston Armory on Tuesday afternoon. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Voters stood in line to vote Tuesday morning at the Crescent Park School gym in Bethel. Election officials throughout the area reported high interest in voting. (Alison Aloisio/Bethel Citizen) 

Wearing a mask on top of his head that he said “represents resistance,” Jay W. Jones of Auburn said he voted for Democrats. “I want to make America America again,” he said. It used to be Republicans were needed because they represented fiscal responsibility, Jones said. “Now Republicans are just mean.” (Bonnie Washuk/Sun Journal)

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