Record turnout at the polls in Hooksett, area towns
Auburn Selectman Jim Headd directs voters at the polls in the Auburn Village School gym. (Ginger Kozlowski Photo)
In the towns and cities alike, New Hampshire voters turned out for the Nov. 6 elections in “phenomenal” figures, with some even surpassing what they saw in 2008.
Hooksett saw more than 1,000 people register on Election Day, reporting an approximate 80 percent turnout, with a new high of more than 9,236 voters registered and 7,410 ballots cast.
With Auburn reporting an 84 percent turnout, Pembroke at 79 percent and Candia at 82 percent, records were shattered.
The Hooksett polls at the David R. Cawley Middle School saw a surge of voters in the early morning Tuesday, with the stream holding steady throughout the day.
In Auburn, lines were moving along well, as Selectman Jim Headd directed residents to the appropriate check-in desks. Allenstown and Candia also seemed to be handling the flow without problem that morning.
Auburn Town Clerk Joanne Linxweiler reported 3,276 voters, with 3,889 registered.
“Great turnout,” she said.
“It’s been extremely steady,” said Hooksett Deputy Town Clerk Billie Hebert. “We probably had maybe 200 people between 6 and 7 a.m., if not more. It’s been hectic.”
By 10:30 that morning, more than 3,000 people had submitted ballots in Hoosett’s two counting machines.
Town Councilor Todd Lizotte, who was present at the polls, shared his impression.
“A heck of a lot of people showed up at the crack of dawn, more than normal,” said Lizotte. “It’s a very high volume.”
In October, Town Moderator Don Riley requested the presence of town councilors at the election, noting that their contributions are technically required under the state’s constitution.
Though the school’s gym was packed and parking and traffic around the school was crowded, the flow of voters within the building was steady and constant, a fact Lizotte attributed to Riley’s organization.
“Don Riley’s pretty good. He’s been planning this,” said Lizotte. “He did some tests, using the primaries as a base model for how to get the flow right. I think it’s flowing really well.”
Election officials also noted that the new voter ID law had been implemented without issue, with fewer than 20 people as of noon being required to fill out a challenged-voter affidavit.
“We haven’t had any refusals,” said Hebert. “People have been willing to fill out the forms, and our affidavit room has been very slow. I think, for the most part, they’ve been very ready to show their IDs.”
In Candia, over two-thirds of the town’s registered voters submitted ballots before 5 p.m.
Candia Town Moderator Clark Thyng reported a final tally of 2,498 votes, an 82 percent turnout of the registered voters.
The 100th vote in the town was made at 6:27 a.m.. said Thyng, less than half an hour after the polls opened at the Henry W. Moore School.
“That’s phenomenal,” he said. “It’s gone exceptionally today. We’ve had a very strong turnout, very smooth, very little objection to the new voter ID requirements, so we’re really happy.”
According to Thyng, there had been no refusals in Candia to comply with the state’s new voter ID law.
Pembroke officials said they were on their way to meeting, if not surpassing, the 79 percent voter turnout they achieved in 2008 this year at the polls.
There were 3,925 ballots cast in Pembroke, said Town Clerk James Goff, and with Election Day voter registration, Pembroke tallied 5,020 voters on the checklist, which gave them a 79 percent voter turnout, a possible record.
“I went back just the last two presidential elections – I thought those were record turnouts,” he said, “and in 2008 we ended up with 3,963 ballots cast out of 5,613 registered voters, which came to a 71 percent turnout. In 2004, we ended up with 3,772 ballots cast out of 4,853 registered voters for a 78 percent turnout.”
“It definitely feels busier than four years ago, which was a huge year,” said Goff on Election Day.
Goff noted there were some slowdowns related to the state’s new voter ID law.
“I don’t know if because we’re questioning more and we’ve got the voter ID law and all that it’s slowing down the actual check-in process,” said Goff.
The initial confusion and occasional ire surrounding the law seems to have largely cooled in the town. Goff said that while during the primaries in September upwards of a dozen people had come in “looking for a fight” on the law, people in the town seem to have largely accepted it.
“We haven’t heard anything beyond the typical grumblings. Sometimes it’s just the change that bothers people,” said Goff. “I think we got word out (about the law) pretty good. Most people just want to speed up the process, so if they need to bring their driver’s license to speed it up, they’re more than willing.”
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