Linda Dayen, left, chats with Patricia Howe at the Woodstock Town Office on Tuesday afternoon. Howe was finishing up her volunteer clerking shift as Dayen was just getting started. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Lines formed outside polling stations in Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties Tuesday as voters cast ballots in person instead of by absentee, which thousands of others did.

Dozens of new voter registrations were reported by clerks on Election Day.

In Norway and Harrison, town clerks said more people voted in person than in the 2016 presidential election.

In Jay, 676 voters had turned out by 1:30 p.m., Town Clerk Ronda Palmer said.

“We had close to 1,500 absentee ballots,” she said. She believed they were on par with the 2016 presidential election.

Palmer said she had no problems at the polls. There were 3,409 registered voters before Tuesday and 75 new registrations on Election Day.

Voting was going well in Livermore Falls, Town Clerk Amanda Allen said. By 1:45 p.m., 585 voters had come to the polls.

Allen said she misunderstood a memo from Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap about allowing political material at polling stations. She had asked two people wearing items with political symbols or writing on them to take them off or turn them around.

Although the state encourages voters at the polls to refrain from wearing face masks or other regalia that displays the name of a candidate on the ballot, if they do, it recommends minimizing the amount of time they remain in and around the voting place, according to a state memo. It also discourages conflict that will “inevitably arise if a warden turns away a voter who is so garbed,” the memo said.

The memo also noted that the state does not prohibit a person who is at the polls solely for the purpose of voting from wearing a campaign button less than 3 inches.

In Wilton, the line of voters wrapped around the Town Office, where Deputy Treasurer Linda Bureau monitored the door ensuring no more than eight voters were inside at one time.

A line of voters wraps around Wilton’s town office Tuesday. Eight voters were allowed in the office at a time to cast their ballots. Andrea Swiedom/Franklin Journal

As people streamed out of the office, many stopped to sign the petition to put Central Maine Power Company’s corridor project to a statewide vote. Volunteer Geri Bryant said that as voters waited in line, they could familiarize themselves with the petition.

Dawson Tolman, 19, of Wilton registered Tuesday and cast his first ballot ever, saying he wasn’t nervous about voting in-person.

“I’m not so much as nervous as what comes after,” he said.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Wilton had 838 ballots cast, including absentees. Town officials decided not to tabulate absentee ballots ahead of time.

“We really didn’t anticipate this kind of absentee number,” Town Clerk Diane Dunham said.

Wilton has about 2,983 registered voters and Dunham said she had registered about 15 more by Tuesday afternoon.

One resident picked up a ballot, entered the voting booth and discovered it was already filled out,  according to the voter’s Facebook post.

The Facebook post showed a letter apparently from Dunham apologizing and saying it was a personal error.

“It is our sincerest desire to make certain this election is held to the highest standards of professionalism,” it said. “This has been reconciled. I will be more alert to the activity in the room.”

Dunham wrote in an email Tuesday night that she has contacted the Secretary of State’s Office and is referring all questions to them.

In Farmington, more than a dozen people were waiting to register to vote and about two dozen were waiting to cast ballots around noon. Inside, more people with ballots were waiting for a booth.

Some two dozen voters wait outside the community center in Farmington just after noon Tuesday. Brisk winds and snow squalls greeted them while they waited to vote. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“So far, about 600 have voted,” Town Clerk Leanne Dickey said. “We’ve had 2,300 absentee ballots.”

“I haven’t heard one complaint,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said. “We’re trying to move them as quickly as we can.”

At Spruce Mountain Primary School in Livermore, 718 absentee ballots had been returned, 564 of which were processed Thursday. By early afternoon, 455 voters had cast ballots.

While four voters cast their ballots in the booths at Spruce Mountain Primary School in Livermore on Tuesday, others wait in line. Two volunteers, at right, sanitized each booth after each was used. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“About 7 a.m., there were people waiting,” Town Clerk Renda Guild said. “It’s been slick. Most people are masking, our people are.”

“It was crazy a few minutes ago,” parking volunteer Rich Ciarcia said.

In Rumford, longtime election warden Frank DiConzo said that as of 2:30 p.m., about 1,100 people entered the American Legion to fill out their ballots.

“The lines have been there, but they haven’t been very long,” he said. “I think the most we’ve had is eight to 10 at one time. The line hasn’t been bad at all. And I think that’s due to the absentee count.”

DiConzo said they had received 1,470 absentee ballots as of Friday.

Because of that, the traffic has been steady and manageable. “Further, they move in and move back out in fairly quick fashion because there was only one two-sided ballot on Tuesday.”

But there was one issue.

“I’ve never seen as many spoiled ballots as of right now . . . because people don’t understand ranked choice voting,” DiConzo said.

He said when a ballot is put it through the voting machine, but is kicked back out, that voter is given another ballot and the problem is explained to them.

In some cases, DiConzo said wardens have to explain to people that with ranked-choice voting, they need to only vote for one in each column for first, second, third and fourth choice.

A line of voters wait to cast ballots Tuesday afternoon at the American Legion Hall in Rumford. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

In Norway, voters were greeted with a line at the fire station when the polls opened at 8 a.m., but it soon dwindled, said Sarah Russell, a counter clerk and General Assistance administrator. She said foot traffic was heavy throughout the day, but voters were in and out quickly.

Boyce said she had a number of first-time poll workers, some of whom were pressed into service earlier than Election Day to help with absentee ballots.

Although there was no lull during the day, by 5:30 activity increased again.

“We’ve had 1,125 ballots so far today,” Boyce said, noting that with more than two hours to go Norway had exceeded its previous presidential in-person vote.

In Bethel, Town Clerk Christen Mason said voter traffic has not been too backed up because polls opened at 8. She said early morning was the busiest.

Mason said the town issued 982 absentee ballots and had 962 returned, so far. Bethel has more than 2,500 registered voters.

Greenwood Town Clerk Angie Lovejoy said voting was going fairly smooth at the Town Office, which was a relief because the larger American Legion Hall was not available this year.

Out of Greenwood’s 730 registered voters, 386 voted by absentee and more than 170 residents voted in-person as of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Kristin Roy, left, and Jen Blastow of Otisfield greet voters at the Town Hall on Tuesday. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

In Otisfield, about 130 people were lined up to vote when polls opened. Kristin Roy stood outside all day, greeting voters.

“It’s been unbelievable,” she said. “There were so many people here the first hour, it was really great.”

Otisfield voters cast their ballots Tuesday at the Community Hall. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Things were much the same in Harrison, with a heavy turnout in the morning, steady through the day and more traffic again in late afternoon.

According to Town Clerk Melissa St. John, about a 1,000 voters cast absentee ballots, and as of 5 p.m. 550 had voted in person. More than 40 were first-time voters.

“For a frame of reference, in the 2016 election the total number of votes was 1,504 or 1,507, so we are well ahead this time,” St. John said. “It’s been a good day. The line went up the sidewalk until 9:30 this morning.”

St. John said for the most part things went smoothly but a few odd events occurred. Early in the morning, with people withstanding cold temperatures and biting wind, a Bridgton resident joined the line.

“There was someone from the Women’s League of Voters working the line to see if anyone needed assistance,” St. John said. “This woman from Bridgton was waiting with voters. She did not try to vote or register, she just sort of showed up and stood in line in the parking lot.”

A voter came into the lobby shortly after 5 p.m., saying he had just voted but did not get to cast his vote in the presidential election.

“Why didn’t you say anything when you were in the room to vote?” St. John asked him.

“I expected to get the ballot for it,” he replied.

“Did you have two ballots?” she asked.

“Yeah, but they had nothing to do with the presidency,” he said.

“And you put both ballots in each machine?” she said.

He said he did, but he didn’t vote for president.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” St. John said, because the presidential ballots go in one machine and the referendum ballots in another. If either is placed in the wrong machine it will reject it, she said.

“Thank you,” he said, and promptly left.

St. John said it was the second time Tuesday that a voter claimed they had not been able to cast a  presidential ballot because they didn’t get one. She went through the protocol of “challenging the ballot,” and he was allowed a new one.

“This had never happened before,” she said. “And after this second person said it too, I believe the first one was suspect.”

Volunteers Kathy Richardson, left, and Susan Emerson check in voters Tuesday afternoon at the South Paris Fire Station. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. 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.