Belle Bernheft approaches the Bates College registration table at the former Longley School in Lewiston on Tuesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON – On a bright, sunny Tuesday outside Lewiston’s sole polling place at Longley School, Joe Paradis took satisfaction in the steady torrent of voters heading in to cast ballots.

Joe Paradis walks into the former Longley School to cast his vote Monday afternoon. Paradis says voting is a duty. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Paradis, who’s 90, said he’s never missed a chance to vote.

Growing up in the city’s French community, he said, the necessity of voting was in the blood of everyone around him.

“You did your duty. You voted,” he said. “I was raised like that.”

Few of those casting ballots in the hotly contested Democratic presidential primary or a controversial vaccine referendum could match his decades of dedicated civic responsibility.

But they came anyway, piling out of a Bobcat Express van from Bates College or pulling up in a beat-up old truck or walking a few blocks to enjoy a glorious day that did more than hint that spring will eventually arrive.


Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, who’d been checking on voting across Maine, said it appears turnout is higher than expected. It’s been busy everywhere, he said, but everything’s gone pretty smoothly.

Pat Bergeron had no trouble casting her votes against a proposed repeal of mandatory vaccines for students and for “the big Donald” Trump to serve again as the Republicans’ candidate for the White House he won in 2016.

One of the few gripes at the polls in Maine, Dunlap said, is that in some small towns, where electronic tabulators are in use for the first time, at least a few voters wrote in alternatives to Trump on the Republican primary ballot.

Since a write-in was the only way to oppose Donald Trump as the party’s candidate — though those won’t be counted since nobody filed as a formal write-in — it irked some when election workers said something about them writing in candidates since doing so clearly indicated opposition to the president.

In some places, that might create at least a bit of concern.

In Democratic-leaning Lewiston, though, lots of voters showed up mostly to make a selection from among the five active Democratic candidates for president.


There’s no telling which of them is doing well and which poorly, but U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders certainly had some enthusiastic backers at the polls.

Noreen Parent and Marie Chapman pick up their ballots to vote at the former Longley School in Lewiston on Tuesday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Zach Pushee said Sanders has the best chance to defeat Trump so he voted for the Vermont senator.

So did Eric Viera, a Bates senior, who said the country needs “some type of radical change” to catch up with many European nations — a change that Sanders would push for.

Viera said the United States could “do a lot of good” around the world if it could put aside the notions of those who “only care about ourselves.”

For Mike Neff, Sanders simply sounds more convincing than his Democratic rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Neff said he’s sure Sanders “would do a better job than what Trump’s doing.”


Not everyone was for Sanders, of course.

On his way in to vote, Dave Cyr said he would probably go with Biden. Sanders, he said, “is too much of a socialist for me.”

Tim Hunter, a Bates sophomore, said he favors Warren because she has so many good plans to deal with issues across the board. It’s a sign, he said, that she knows how to surround herself with bright people who can do the job.

That’s “a sign of a good leader,” Hunter said.

Voters who talked to the Sun Journal uniformly opposed Question 1, but that doesn’t mean anything about how the referendum will turn out.

Cyr said he knew people who had polio when they were young and he has no interest in risking a return to a time when children needed walkers and braces if they survived at all.


Bergeron said she’s a nurse and believes everyone ought to be inoculated.

“Everybody ought to be protected,” Pushee said, because it doesn’t make sense to risk getting a disease that’s largely preventable.

Dunlap said he’s not too worried about foreign interference in Maine’s voting despite warnings this week from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia is angling to attack the election again.

With paper ballots, he said, the votes can always be counted.

He said that foreign countries that want to meddle are more apt to try to get Americans to wrangle even more with one another on social media, fostering chaos and anger. He said they create fake news sites, push fake news stories and rely on Americans to share them as if they are real.

It’s been so effective a tactic, Dunlap said, that sometimes questions asked by polling place moderators “originated in the hallways of Russian intelligence.”


Fortunately, he said, Americans are growing more sophisticated about what’s going on.

Plus, in the end, people are “in control of their own vote,” Dunlap said.

The polls close at 8 p.m.

Republicans and Democrats have presidential primaries. All eligible Mainers can cast a ballot on Question 1.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.