SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 6, 2012

North Shore election officials report heavy voter turnout

Staff reports
The Salem News

— Busy has been the word of the day to describe polling places across the North Shore today.

"Very, very busy. Crazy busy," reported a worker in the city clerk's office in Peabody, when asked about turnout for today's election.

In Salem, a spokesman for the city clerk's office reported more than 35 percent of registered voters had already cast ballots by 1:45 p.m.

As of 2 p.m. in Beverly, 45 percent, or 11,633 people, had voted, according to the city clerk's office. How does this compare to the last presidential election? At 2 p.m. in 2008, 46 percent of Beverly's registered voters had cast ballots by 2 p.m., according to the clerk's office.

In Wenham, 1,550 of the town's 2,900 registered voters — just over 53 percent — had cast ballots by 3 p.m.

"It's what I expected," said Town Clerk Trudy Reid, just after 3 p.m. "We'll probably get to 85 or 90 percent (voter turnout)."

In 2008, Wenham had 86 percent voter turnout with 165 absentee ballots. This year, Reid said she's received close to 350 absentee ballots.

Today's busy pace is a good test for the town's new polling location. Wenham voters are casting ballots at Town Hall today, a change from Buker School, where polls have been for years. Reid said she's gotten both complaints and compliments about the new polling place, and a few voters who arrived after going to Buker first.

"All in all it's going fairly well," she said. "I've had a few complaints about parking ... I haven't had to run off any campaigners, they seem to know where to stand (far enough away from the polls)."

As of 3:30 p.m., 2,941 of Hamilton's 5,837 registered voters had cast ballots, or just over 50 percent.

That's "very, very busy," according to the town clerk's office.

In addition to deciding on the nation's next president, voters in the 6th Congressional District will also decide their next congressman, choosing between Democratic incumbent John Tierney and Republican challenger Richard Tisei. North Shore voters will also decide their next representative to the Governor's Council and, in some cases, their next state representative and state senator.

Those who head to the polls will also be asked to vote on three statewide ballot questions. In addition, voters in Salem and Beverly will choose whether to adopt the Community Preservation Act.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. tonight. For more information and live updates throughout the evening, check the Salem News' special election page.