HERMON, Maine — In towns and cities across Maine on Monday, town clerks processed record amounts of absentee ballots and poll workers readied for today’s expected trial by ballot.
One refrain was clear late Monday afternoon, at least in the town of Hermon:
Wednesday can’t come soon enough.
“It has just been crazy,” said Ruth Nickerson, a deputy town clerk.
And about those absentee ballots?
“We’ve been doing nothing but,” she said, holding a box piled with the folded, sealed envelopes.
With just 15 minutes left in the town’s early voting period, the small town office was packed with residents who wanted to register and then fill out their absentee voting forms in every spare corner of the building.
Stacks of ballots and registration forms covered the counters. The town office workers have counted 717 absentee ballots so far this year, almost 300 more than the previous record high.
“It’s a lot more paperwork than with a regular ballot,” said Donna Shorey, another deputy clerk.
Despite the stress and the workload, Shorey and Nickerson still had time to smile as a beaming Jennifer Chaloult, 18, emerged from a room where she had been casting her first ballot ever.
“I’m really psyched about this, really excited to cast my vote,” Chaloult said. “I really feel that voting in this election is one of the most important things I can do in my life.”
Chaloult, a University of Maine freshman, said that she has been a one-woman get out the vote juggernaut, working to convince her friends at school that they need to participate.
“I have no life right now,” she said. “If I’m not in school, I’m working. If I’m not working, I’m listening to politics.”
At 5 p.m., closing time at the town office, Nickerson locked the door with alacrity. But meanwhile, at the town’s elementary school, there was still plenty of work to do.
That’s where voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, and where Town Clerk Carol Davis and Election Warden Shirley Frost will put in a very long workday.
The two women strung rope around the school gym to help the expected crowds progress in an orderly fashion.
“We haven’t had guardrail rope in a long time,” Davis said.
The ladies anticipate that their workday today will start at 7 a.m. and won’t wind down until 2 or 3 a.m. Wednesday.
Hermon had 2,800 voters during the last presidential election, and Davis figured that those numbers would be easily exceeded today.
“We’ll both be glad when it’s over,” Frost said.