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Primary Blog: Santorum camp eye on fourth place
Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and his wife Mary Kaye visited the Ward 1 polls at the Webster School in Manchester on Tuesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Douglas Libby works on his ballot while at the polls with his son, Ryan, at Bedford High School on Tuesday morning. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Ward 12 Moderator Keith Hirschmann holds open the curtain for a voter at Nortwest Elementary School in Manchester on Tuesday morning. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Voters make their way past candidate supporters before voting in Tuesday's Primary at Bedford High School. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
THE GYMNASIUM AT THE WEBSTER SCHOOL, the polling location for Ward 1 voters, was quiet about 7:40 a.m. but moderator Dianne Beaton said a long line of people were waiting inside the school when the polls opened at 6 a.m. About 250 of the ward's 5,900 registered voters had cast their ballots just after 7:30 a.m. (PAT GROSSMITH)
Steve "Slim" Spafford of Groton came to vote in the New Hampshire Primary, Tuesday on his horse, "Spirit" a 12-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse. The two traveled a mile and a half up hill to the Groton Town Hall where he hitched up, entered, and voted. Asked who he voted for, Spafford wouldn't say and the horse was not talking, either. She was just munching on the grass outside Town Hall, where traffic at the polls was slow. (PAULA TRACY)
North Hampton Town Moderator Bill Boesch and ballot clerk Georgia Dougherty handle absentee ballots during a lull at the polls on Tuesday. Boesch said turnout at Tuesday's primary was much smaller than in 2008, when there was competition in both parties. (GRETYL MacALASTER)
Voting NH Primary FAQ For months candidates have been working to get out the vote across New Hampshire, but for those who are not registered or have never voted, the process can confusing.
9:38 p.m.: Santorum supporters say fourth would be provide momentum
MANCHESTER - There's an upbeat feeling at Santorum's party headquarters, the ballroom of the Derryfield, as polls show a close race for fourth between him and Newt Gingrich.
Supporters here say fourth would be a respectable showing for Santorum in New Hampshire, and would give him the momentum for a strong showing in South Carolina and other states.
Santorum is expected to take the stage within the next 15-20 minutes.
9:06 p.m.: O'Brien: Romney win anything but a landslide
There was almost no reaction in Gingrich's half-filled post-primary party when, at 8 p.m., just as the last polls in the state closed and when only about 10 percent of results were in, networks projected Romney as the winner.
Romney gave his celebratory speech 25 minutes after the polls closed. He focused the speech on President Barack Obama and didn't mention Gingrich or any other rival Republican candidates.
One of Gingrich's most prominent New Hampshire supporters, House Speaker William O'Brien, said he believes Romney, while winning the primary, lost the battle of voter expectations by not winning in a clear landslide.
“I think Mitt Romney is just confirming that he can't close with Republicans,” O'Brien said. “With all of the money he spent and time he spent on his campaign, he is having trouble getting one out of three people voting for him.”
O'Brien said he believes that, as the campaign moves on, he is “optimistic” that voters will flock to Gingrich.
“I think Newt Gingrich, after the vicious negative attack ads that were leveled at him, he is holding his own,” he said.
8:03 p.m.: Romney supporters rock out as returns trickle in
MANCHESTER - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney supporters are rocking out to "You Make My Dreams Come True" by Hall and Oates while watching results slowly trickle in - a prophetic musical choice? The supporters are gathered and prepared for what they hope will be a New Hampshire victory celebration at Southern New Hampshire University.
- Paul Feely, New Hampshire Union Leader
7:46 p.m.: Raymond voters overwhelmingly choose Republican ticket
RAYMOND - As of about 2 p.m. 900 voters had chosen the Republican ballot compared to 115 ballots cast for Democrats, town moderator Kathy Hoezel said.
The number of registered Democrats in town (1253) is only slightly less than Republicans (1745) and 2,686 residents were registered Undeclared as of Tuesday morning.
Gretyl Macalaster, Union Leader Correspondent
7:44 p.m.: Little signage, slow turnout in New Castle, North Hampton
NEW CASTLE - Town clerk Priscilla Hodgkins said not a single sign holder had turned out to the polls at the recreation center as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday night, two hours before polls closed.
Although the town is small, she said there are always sign holders.
She said turnout at the polls was steady, but slow, a comment echoed by many town clerks and moderators across the Seacoast.
North Hampton town moderator Bill Boesch said turnout was low because there was no competition on the Democrat ticket, so the Democrats stayed home.
“The Democrats are definitely not coming out in large numbers,” Boesch said.
In 2008, he said the vote was pretty evenly split between the two parties and about 2,200 residents cast ballots. He projected only about half as many would this year.
- Gretyl Macalaster, Union Leader Correspondent
7:22 p.m.: Santorum HQ at Derryfield packed with press
MANCHESTER -- The banquet room of the Derryfield, Rick Santorum's party headquarters is packed -- with members of the press corps and few others.
The stage is framed by banners reading "Faith, Family & Freedom" -- reflecting Santorum's socially consertative outlook.
A campaign volunteer from Pennsylvania, Joyce Hass, said she was hopeful, even though Santorum has lagged in the polls in New Hampshire.
"We hope he finishes second or third, but even if we get fouth, we can keep the momentum," she said. "He's going to be the nominee in the fall."
- Ted Siefer, New Hampshire Union Leader
6:48 p.m.: Strong voter turnout in Plaistow
PLAISTOW - Voter turnout in Plaistow was much better than local officials were expecting, with 33 percent of voters casting ballots in Tuesday's Primary by 6:30 p.m.
“It's going very well,” Town Clerk Maryellen Pelletier said.
By 6:30 p.m., 1,454 of the town's 4,444 registered voters had cast ballots, which Pelletier said was "excellent for Plaistow."
While most were voting in the Republican Primary, Pelletier said many have shown up thinking they were undeclared but were still registered as Democrats because they never changed back to undeclared status after voting in the last Primary. Those registered as Democrats can't vote in the Republican Primary, so Pelletier said she expected many would write-in a Republican candidate on the Democratic ballot.
“They don't understand the process,” she said.
- Jason Schreiber, Union Leader Correspondent
6 p.m.: Change in party affiliation rules surprise some Conway voters
CONWAY - Turnout in Conway is steady, with over 1,200 voting by 4 p.m. The only problems voting officials are encountering are residents who want to change their party affiliation from one party to another. Only undeclared voters can choose which party to vote in during a primary vote, a difference not all residents understand.
"They think it's our fault that they can't," said Carolyn Brown, a supervisor of the checklist.
- Sara Young-Knox, Union Leader Correspondent
5 p.m.: Republican voters outnumber Democrats 4 to 1 in Londonderry
LONDONDERRY - Traditionally, Republicans have dominated Londonderry's vote, this year's primary has been no exception thus far.
Shortly before 4 p.m. this afternoon, 3035 of the town's Republications had cast their ballots inside the high school gymnasium, compared to 700 Democrats.
According to town officials, lines have been especially long for those registering to vote for the first time.
Londonderry currently has more than 17,000 registered voters.
- Aprl Guilmet, Union Leader Correspondent
4:39 p.m. - Primary pot luck always a treat in Wolfeboro
WOLFEBORO — Dieters beware: don't vote hungry in Wolfeboro.
Every election, whether it be a federal, state or local affair, Town Clerk Pat Waterman not only orchestrates balloting, she coordinates the bountiful pot luck that takes place in the Undercroft of the All Saint's Church kitchen.
“We all bring something,” said Waterman. She brings her perennial favorite to balloting days – Italian meatballs. On Primary Day, dishes stayed warm in crock-pots. There was chili and other hot bean dishes, lasagna, turkey soup, and lots of cold sandwiches specially ordered for the occasion. And of course there was coffee, beverages and lots of desserts.
Wolfeboro Police Department Lt. Dean Rondeau made his routine stop at the polling center, where he praised the turkey soup in particular.
– Larissa Mulkern, Union Leader Correspondent
3:56 p.m.: Morning rush at Nashua polls now slow and steady
NASHUA - City residents were eager to hit the polls on Tuesday for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary election, but then it was slow going after the morning rush, according to staffers.
“Overall, I'd say it has been a pretty good turnout,” said Pat Chadwick, Ward 1 moderator, shortly before noon. About 100 residents had cast ballots in Ward 1 within the first hour the doors opened, according to Chadwick, adding nearly 1,000 votes were made by the lunch hour.
Chadwick, who has been volunteering at city elections for about 20 years, said Primary Day is always an exciting time in New Hampshire.
“These are all critical elections. No matter what your party affiliation, you still have to respect the process,” said Chadwick, explaining Tuesday's turnout was fairly normal and expected.
There was extra momentum at the Ward 1 polling site at Broad Street Elementary School when the daughter of presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich stopped by around 11 a.m.
“I am very excited. It is a lot of fun to be here today,” said Kathy Gingrich Lubbers, adding she has been in constant contact with her father, emailing and texting him periodically on primary day.
She said the presidential candidate was in good spirits on Tuesday morning as she waved goodbye to him from an area hotel.
“He is doing a lot of good things and I think he is having fun,” Lubbers said of Gingrich.
- Kimberly Houghton, Union Leader Correspondent
3:37 p.m.: Light turnout in Durham
DURHAM - Turnout has been low in this Democratically-leaning town, moderator Chris Regan said.
As of 1:45 p.m. only 859 votes had been cast. There are 7,300 registered voters here.
“I've been describing this as a moderate plus town election, not a primary,” Regan said.
Regan said he believes turnout has been blunted by the lack of a strong Democratic race. He also noted that the University of New Hampshire, which is based here, is not yet in session so no students are on campus to vote.
3:10 p.m.: Low turnout so far in Dover
DOVER - Campaign sign holders didn't even show up at the ward two polling place of St. Mary's Parish today.
Moderator Suzanne Christenbury said this afternoon that she ran outside several times to check on whether she needed to keep sign holders in place and every time she did, no one was there.
Turnout has been predictably low for the ward, which leans Democratic, and as of 2:30 p.m. 363 ballots had been cast. There are about 2,600 registered voters in this ward.
Turnout was low in ward four as well, moderator Lee Skinner said. In that ward, 525 ballots were cast s of 2:05. There are 3,000 registered voters there.
Skinner said he expected a higher turnout, particularly because his ward is about even split between Democrats, Republicans and independents, but voters just haven't been showing up. He doesn't think there will be too big of a surge later either.
“I'm thinking today it's not really going to pick up,” Skinner said.
No one was holding campaign signs outside the ward four polling place either.
- Clynton Namuo, Union Leader Correspondent
2:52 p.m.: Occupy NH tries to enter Goffstown poll
Debate ensued at the polls in Goffstown as representatives from Occupy New Hampshire sought entrance into Goffstown High School.
Assistant Town Moderator Jim Raymond confirmed that members of Occupy New Hampshire wanted to set up a table inside the building, but that it “would not be appropriate.”
A representative from the Attorney General's office was at the school already, conducting an inspection of the polling station, and settled the matter.
Occupy New Hampshire volunteers were permitted to set up outside and speak with voters as they left the school.
No political signs are permitted on school grounds, Raymond said, and residents can only be approached on their way out of the polls, not before they vote.
Raymond said much of what occurs on election day is up to the town moderator.
“Under New Hampshire law, the moderator has considerable discretion on how to conduct an election,” Raymond said.
Paul Mouliason, a volunteer for the organization, said he only wants voters to make an informed decision.
“I'm encouraging people to go home and do their research,” he said.
- Kathy Remillard, Union Leader Correspondent
2:15 p.m.: Merrimack voter turnout slow but steady
MERRIMACK - There was a steady flow of voters coming and going from James Mastricola Upper Elementary School on Tuesday.
“It has been slow but steady,” said Town Moderator Lynn Christensen shortly before noon. “This is pretty typical for a primary election.”
About 2,000 votes had been cast throughout Merrimack's three polling sites before the lunch hour, according to Christensen, who predicted about 6,800 ballots would be cast by the end of the day.
Merrimack has about 16,000 registered voters.
“This is the first time ever that not one single sign-holder was outside this morning when I voted,” said Marc Snider of Merrimack, who was outside a few hours later holding signs supporting presidential hopeful Ron Paul. “Still, I think the turnout has been relatively decent.”
Another Paul fan, JB Webb of Manchester, said there is a strong network of Paul supporters stationed throughout every town and city in the state on Tuesday. His grassroots campaign seems to be picking up a lot of momentum just in time for the primary election, Webb said of Paul.
- Kimberly Houghton, Union Leader Correspondent
Slower than expected start to primary voting in Manchester
MANCHESTER - A steady but light voter turnout in the state's largest city this morning has City Clerk Matt Normand hoping a rush of voters casting ballots this afternoon will result in Secretary of State Bill Gardner's prediction of a 42 percent turnout today for the state's largest city.
“I just hope the turnout's going to happen,” he said.
About 10 a.m., Ward 1 was swamped when Newt Gingrich and his supporters arrived. It stayed that way for the arrival about a half-hour later of Gov. Mitt Romney, according to Normand.
But, other than that, voters are not crowding city polling places, especially if a comparison is made to 2008 when more than 50,000 people - or 75 percent of registered voters - cast ballots in the Presidential election, according to Normand.
He said in the past sign holders crowded the area outside Parker-Varney Middle School, where Ward 10 residents cast ballots and where there is historically a good Republican turnout. Today, he said, there were no sign holders.
Ward 1 Moderator Dianne Beaton at the Webster School said there was a long line of voters waiting inside for polls to open at 6 a.m.
“It's been steady the whole time,” she said. By 7:40 a.m., 250 of the ward's 5,900 voters had cast ballots. Beaton said she hopes between 35 to 39 percent of eligible voters will vote by the time polls close.
At Northwest Elementary School, on the city's West Side where Ward 12 voters cast their ballots, Moderator Keith Hirschmann said 230 of the ward's 4,400 registered voters cast ballots by 8 a.m.
“It's been slow but steady which is good because we're able to keep up with it,” he said. “Everything seems organized and very efficient.”
Only a handful of people were heading to the polling booths about that time and camera crews from the United Kingdom, ABC in New York City and the Associated Press, waiting in a cordoned off area for the arrival of Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, appeared bored.
One woman, entering the school just before 8 a.m., wondered aloud where everyone was.
At St. Pius CCD Center on Candia Road, the polling place for Ward 6, 318 out of the 5,316 registered voters had cast ballots by 8:30 a.m.
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