MANCHESTER, NH – Driven by what Secretary of State Bill Gardner identified as the Shaheen-Brown factor, voter turnout was expected to be one of the highest in state history for the Nov. 4 mid-term election.
In Manchester, City Clerk Matt Normand was already expecting a record turnout hours before the polls closed at 7 p.m.
“We’re going to have a really healthy turnout here,” said Normand. “We could have a historic mid-term election turnout in Manchester, with a chance of reaching 60 percent, based on what I’m hearing at the polls.”
Every race at the top of the ticket in New Hampshire has been tight.
Democrat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen saw a comfortable lead shrink over the past several weeks, as her Republican opponent Scott Brown gained ground leading up to election day, rolling out a statewide bus tour and working hard to match the Democrat’s at their own strategic ground game.
Similar close races were expected between Republican Frank Guinta and Democrat Carol Shea Porter in Congressional District 1; Democrat Annie Kuster and Republican Marilinda Garcia in Congressional District 2; Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republican opponent Walt Havenstein.
Ward 1 moderator Joe LaChance said foot-traffic to the Webster Street School polling place had been steady all day.
Gordon and Claire Ridge held hands as they approached the ballot box, and took turns slipping their ballots into the machine – one for candidates and one for the ballot question, on the city charter amendment.
“We’ve been married 65 years,” said Gordon Ridge. “We’ve voted here together our whole lives, except for the time I was in the service.”
Ward 3 moderator Gail Athas said turnout at the Carol Rines Center had been “awesome,” leaving her little time to process the pile of absentee ballots delivered at 10 a.m.
“I’m just getting them through now,” said Athas, at about 3 p.m.
As a handful of voters waited to sign in, a small delegation of Moroccan citizens stood off to the side, learning about the democratic process through a U.S. Department of State program run here by the World Affairs Council NH, via State Department translator Brandie Brunner.
WACNH Associate Director Tim Horgan said the group of eight educators were visiting to learn about our primary and secondary education system.
“Because schools were closed today, we thought this would be a chance to show them democracy in action,” Horgan said.