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Kristin Harrison, left, waits to receive her ballot from Ward 6 Ballot Inspector Thomas Hansberry. Ward clerk Leo Veilleux said lines were halfway out into the parking lot at St. PIus CCD Center when polls opened at 6 a.m. By 7 a.m., 742 people had voted. Veilleux said there have been no problems despite the heavy turnout. One man said it took about a half-hour (PAT GROSSMITH)

Heavy voter turnout in Manchester

MANCHESTER - Voter turnout was phenomenal across the city this morning, according to the city clerk, who predicts between 47,000 and 48,000 people will cast their ballots in the 2012 general election when the votes are finally tallied.

"That's good," City Clerk Matthew Normand said.

Ward 6 clerk Leo Veilleux said by 7 a.m., 742 people had cast ballots at the St. Pius CCD Center on Candia Road.

"They were halfway down the parking lot when we opened," he said. "It's almost six times the rate of a normal city election."

Lines were moving smoothly, but slowly. One man said it took him about a half-hour to make it to the ballot box, but he did not seem to mind.

Veilleux said there were no problems with the new Voter ID system or first-time voters.

Four-hundred Ward 1 residents had cast their ballots by 7 a.m. at the Webster School and 50 minutes later, another 315 had made their selections.

The numbers are phenomenal across the city with all wards reporting heavy turnout and no problems, Normand said.

Gov. John Lynch, who is not seeking reelection, this morning stopped by Ward 1, the city's largest ward with 6,191 registered voters, to greet voters. He plans to vote this afternoon in Hopkinton.

Congressman Frank Guinta and his wife, Morgan, arrived at Ward 1 about 8:15 a.m. He plans to continue on the campaign trail today and had already stopped at the Leo E. O'Neil Youth Center to greet Ward 9 voters there. The election, he said, will come down to the economy and jobs.

"I think we're going to win this," he said before heading into the school to vote.

Inside, people waited patiently in long lines, first to get a ballot and after voting, to place the ballot into the voting machine. Ward moderator Dianne Beaton said things were going smoothly although there was a bit of a backup because of the numbers of people, two ballots to complete and only one machine to enter the ballot. She said it is the busiest she's seen in 10 years.

Outside, Bonnie Argeropoulos of Edison Research was conducting an exit poll for the major television networks. She asked every sixth voter to participate but admitted she was not having much luck. "It's a tough crowd this morning."

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