Bangor election clerks say evening voter rush 'crazy'

Bangor voters wait in line to vote at the Bangor Auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009. Election officials in Bangor were expecting to exceed 50 percent voter turnout despite it being an off-year election. (Bangor Daily News/Bridget Brown)
Bangor voters wait in line to vote at the Bangor Auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009. Election officials in Bangor were expecting to exceed 50 percent voter turnout despite it being an off-year election. (Bangor Daily News/Bridget Brown)
Posted Nov. 03, 2009, at 8:17 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine – Everything was moving smoothly Tuesday in the city’s first election with one consolidated polling place until about 4 p.m.

That’s when the Bangor Civic Center got slammed with voters, City Clerk Patti Dubois said as she herded people through the lobby toward the voting booths.

“It’s been crazy,” Dubois said about 6:45 p.m. “We had no lines until 4 o’clock.”

The lines were divided according to voters’ last names and the number of voters whose last names started with the letters A through C was much longer than others. Dubois said that doubling staff on that line helped move voters through more quickly but not as fast as they would have liked.

“We staffed for an off-year election with a 35 percent turnout,” she said. “By six o’clock, we’d already had a 50 percent turnout. This is bigger than a gubernatorial election.”

Marc Corriveau, 46, said that he had waited 90 minutes to cast his ballot.

“We always vote,” he said, “but this kind of a wait is unusual.”

In South Portland, the heaver-than-expected turnout led to a shortage of ballots and City Clerk Susan Mooney had to send more than a thousand photocopied ballots to polling places.

That means more work for counters.

Mooney tells the Portland Press Herald that the photocopied ballots are official, but they cannot be read by voting machines. That means they’ll have to be counted by hand.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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