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Strong turnout seen in early primary voting

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 09. 2016 12:46PM
Manchester residents in Ward 2 crowd into Hillside Middle School to cast their ballots in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary Tuesday morning. (MARK HAYWARD/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Monday's snowstorm appears to have had little effect on New Hampshire residents heading to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

City Clerk Matt Normand said the tabulators are running smoothly; the lines at the polls have been moving along; and the weather has really cooperated.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. in the city and by 8:10 a.m., about 700 people had cast ballots in Ward 1, whose residents vote at Webster Elementary School.

A steady stream of voters made their way into the school as exuberant supporters of candidates carried on outside.

Ward 1 Clerk Sharon Kelly said there are about 6,000 registered voters in the ward. About two hours after polls opened about 700, or 11 percent of them, had voted.

Candidate supporters and dozens of media crowded the area in front of the school and on the steps leading inside, sometimes making it difficult for voters to enter. Several times the media was told to stop blocking the sidewalks.

Secret Service agents had their work cut out for them when the media swarmed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when he arrived about 9 a.m. to greet supporters and voters.

He told reporters he expects to do well in the race.

Agents had to hold back people to let Christie through. He stopped at one point to autograph a campaign sign for a supporter. He took another dozen or so steps, greeting people, but then stopped, turned around and headed back to his campaign bus.

His visit lasted just a few minutes.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had been at the school about an hour earlier.

One national news cameraman quipped that the school must be the polling place most visited by politicians in the nation.

Actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, who arrived before Christie, stayed a bit longer, stumping for Hillary Clinton. Steenburgen has known Clinton for 39 years, while Danson said he's known her for 30 years.

Clinton, he said, is an honorable person who will get things done.

In Ward 6 , where residents vote at the St. Pius X CCD Center on Candia Road, 254 residents voted in the first hour. The ward has 5,358 registered voters: 1,614 Democrats, 1,742 Republicans and 2002 undeclared.

Ward Clerk Jamie Burke said 18 people registered to vote for the first time in the first hour.

He believes the turnout is up from the norm.

"We think it's pretty good," he said. "We've had no problems."

Across the state, election officials were reporting high turnouts.

About 7 a.m. in Merrimack, there was a traffic jam of cars trying to get into the parking lot at the high school, where residents cast their ballots.

Presidential Manchester Merrimack

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