From left, ballot clerks Shane Cote and Linda Grant sign in voters at the Farmington Community Center on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 2. On the ballot were three state referendum questions and two Franklin County referendum questions. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

REGION — Voter turnout locally was steady and higher than normal Tuesday, Nov. 2.

There were no state or national candidate races to decide this year. Some attributed the turnout to the Citizens Initiative question regarding the NECEC transmission corridor. All county towns voted to ban the corridor, some by margins of two to one or greater.

Wilton resident Colby Ryder said he had noticed a constant stream of vehicles at the Wilton Town Office. There was a lull when he arrived to vote shortly after 4 p.m., but the pace picked up again a short time later.

Wilton resident Colby Ryder waits while ballot clerks Carolyn Smith and Lyn Lewia at right check their voter lists. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“About 750 have voted,” Town Clerk Diane Dunham said. “I just checked. We have 2,966 registered voters. Six to eight have registered today.”

When the polls closed at 8 p.m. 1,309 voters had cast ballots.

In Farmington, poll worker Yvette Robinson said that there was a better turnout than usual for an election without races for state and national positions — likely because of Question 1 on the NECEC corridor and partially so because of the Franklin County referendum on increasing the number of county commissioners and districts. However, numbers were nowhere near as high as they were during the 2020 presidential election, Robinson said.


Outside of the Farmington polls, organizers sat collecting signatures for three different petitions.

Lisa Savage, who ran for one of Maine’s seats in the U.S. senate in the 2020 election, was with Maine Healthcare Action to collect signatures for a state referendum item in the next general election to provide the state with universal healthcare.

Savage said ME Healthcare Action has been collecting signatures for weeks in preparation for the January deadline for the item to make it onto the ballot.

If put on the ballot and approved, the measure would do away with private insurance companies in Maine and “take the profit motive out of healthcare,” Savage said.

They chose the Farmington polls as a place to collect signatures because they felt it was an effective way to collect the signatures they need from registered voters in town. Each town needs its own sheet of signatures, she added.

Savage said most voters that have signed on to the petition or simply passed by have “expressed support for universal healthcare” — or if they “are not for universal healthcare” to support referendums, in general.


Mikki Rice was collecting signatures to put two initiatives on the ballot: to replace Central Maine Power and Versant Power with consumer-owned utility and to ban foreign contributions to Maine elections, spearheaded by Our Power Coalition and Protect Maine Elections, respectively.

The legislature passed two bills in June to do those very things. However, Gov. Janet Mills vetoed both bills.

The referendum initiatives are a response to those vetoes, Rice said.

Outside the polls at the New Sharon Town Office, voters were split on the Franklin County referendum questions. New Sharon voters approved the increase in county commissioners and districts from three to five by a vote of 329 to 296.

Debbie Holt said she voted “no” for the increase because county residents “pay enough already” for the current commissioners’ stipends.

“It would just be another couple more people arguing,” Holt’s husband, Dave, added.


Some, such as state Rep. Randall Hall (R-Wilton) argue that an increase in commissioners would prevent political matters from being discussed or decided outside of public meetings (as only two of three commissioners need to be present to constitute a meeting).

However, Michelle Winslow, who voted to reject the increase, said “they rendezvous no matter what” whether it’s three or five commissioners.

On the other side of the issue, Nancy German said she voted in favor of the increase because it could bring about a “diversity of opinion.”

Felicia Bell felt similarly that “more representation can’t be a bad thing.”

Despite the town’s split on county questions, all five voters were in agreement on voting “yes” to reject the NECEC corridor.

Ultimately, New Sharon, Franklin County and Maine overwhelmingly voted “yes” for Question 1, which passed statewide with a vote of 59 percent to 41 percent.

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