Merrimack’s special election on Tuesday hit record numbers, with nearly 5,000 residents going to the polls to vote for a candidate to fill the New Hampshire House seat left open by Speaker Dick Hinch’s death.

Election officials ran out of their initial 4,000 machine ballots and had to switch to paper ballots Tuesday evening. About 900 paper ballots had to be hand-counted after the polls closed at 7 p.m.

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Republican Bill Boyd, Democrat Wendy Thomas and independent Stephen Hollenberg, a member of the American Solidarity Party, were vying for the vacant House seat.

Hinch, a Republican and seven-term member of the House, died of COVID-19 complications on Dec. 9.

“Concord needs a sobering voice right now,” Boyd said on Tuesday outside the polls, pledging to be a responsible and respected voice for Merrimack residents.

“I am optimistic at the turnout. It’s good to see so much involvement,” Thomas said on Tuesday. “I know the issues we’re talking about matter to the people of Merrimack.”

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