Brisk turnout on the big day in Wolfeboro
Volunteers and candidates for a myriad of federal, state and local office hold signs outside the All Saint's Church undercroft in Wolfeboro on Election Day. (Larissa Mulkern Photo)
WOLFEBORO - By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, voter turnout in Wolfeboro exceeded the 50 percent mark – and the polls were open for another four hours.
Town Clerk Patricia Waterman was delighted with the brisk turnout, which at that point in the day was headed to meet or exceed the 77 percent voter turnout in the 2008 election.
Of the 4,884 voters on the town's checklist, approximately 2,700 had voted shortly after 3 p.m. When the polls opened at 8 a.m., the line stretched out the door, around the building into the parking lot and beyond the building annex.
Waterman said turnout was 76 percent in the 2004 Presidential election and 77 percent in the 2008 Presidential election. This year, her office also received 764 absentee ballots. Throughout the day, election workers registered numerous new voters of all ages. It was all hands on deck at the polling place, held at the All Saint's Church undercroft on South Main Street. Waterman had 49 polling booths set up, space for new voter registrations, and for poll verification workers from both the President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney camps.
All five members of the town's board of selectmen lent a hand.
“I can't thank the election workers enough. They are absolutely wonderful,” said Waterman. Earlier in the day, a representative from the state Attorney General's Office stopped by with a seven-page checklist for polling places.
“I got an 'A',” said Waterman, adding that the town had more than enough polling booths, staff and forms to get through the day and night.
She said Election Day was a learning opportunity for young people. Students from a history class from Kingswood High School were assigned to accompany their parents to the polls, obtain a sample ballot that Waterman would sign for verification 'homework', and observe the voting process. “It's a great learning tool for the students,” she said.
Waterman also registered one woman who had not voted since she was 18. The woman, who was now in her 50s, said she turned out to vote for one office only: President. The choice was not disclosed.
Outside the polling place, candidates and volunteers held signs for a variety of elected office and tried to keep warm during the chilly day.
State Representative candidate Dave Babson Jr. of Ossipee said he heard that turnout was equally brisk in Ossipee, where 1,600 residents had voted by noon.
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