Based on the incomplete totals, turnout stood to exceed 11 percent of eligible voters.

AUGUSTA (AP) – Turnout was predictably light, but voters seemed to have a higher sense of motivation when they went to the polls to approve a $60 million economic development bond issue, Maine’s top election official said Wednesday.

Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky, who traveled to several Down East polling places during Tuesday’s balloting, said that while fewer people showed up, those who did were eager to offer their reasons for voting the way they did.

And in most cases, it was in favor of the multifaceted bond issue that was winning by a 3-2 margin. Gwadosky said the high degree of motivation was evident in areas that are in greatest need of an economic boost.

In general elections, more than 50 percent of Maine’s voter-age population generally casts ballots. But Tuesday’s referendum featured not only a single state issue, but was held during an off-year. There was virtually no campaigning or advertising to heighten voter interest.

That, plus a lack of final figures, make it hard to compare Tuesday’s turnout with that of other elections.

With votes counted in 93 percent of Maine’s precincts, the proposal was winning 61 percent to 39 percent. The percentages, which remained consistent as counting continued Wednesday afternoon, are unofficial.

Based on the incomplete totals, turnout stood to exceed 11 percent of eligible voters.

Leading supporters of the $60 million long-term borrowing package said it will create thousands of new jobs while helping to pull Maine from economic doldrums.

“The passage of this bond proposal reiterates public support for research and development as a fast-growing economic force in Maine,” University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph Westphal said.

“This bond issue will allow us to expand university-based research in ways that will create new jobs and educational opportunities,” the chancellor said.

Gov. John Baldacci, who initially proposed the bond issue, Tuesday night called its passage “a smart move by the people.”

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