BANGOR, Maine — Voting was steady, but slow, in Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center on Tuesday morning, according to City Clerk Lisa Goodwin. About 360 Bangor residents cast votes by 9:30 a.m.
In addition, 1,210 people had returned absentee ballots by Monday or voted early in person in late October.
“It’s low [turnout], but it’s typical of an off-year election,” City Clerk Lisa Goodwin said inside Bangor’s new Cross Insurance Center, the city’s polling place.
In southern Maine, heavier-than-usual turnout was expected because of contentious votes in Portland and South Portland.
In Maine’s largest city, voters are deciding whether to pass a referendum that would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes, while in neighboring South Portland, a proposed ordinance change seeking to block the transportation of so-called tar sands oil through the city is on the ballot.
“It’s been a steady stream of cars since I’ve been here,” said Sylvia Schlotterbeck, a supporter of the proposed South Portland waterfront protection ordinance.
Gene Landry, one of six candidates running for two at-large seats on the Portland Board of Public Education, said he saw regular foot traffic across the bridge in the Forest City as well, where he greeted voters at the polling station at St. Pius Church on Ocean Avenue.
The six candidates vying for three seats on Bangor City Council and three candidates hoping for one of two spots on school committee each made pitches during forums in September.
Both of those debates are still available on the city’s website.
Council candidates, in order of their appearance on the ballot, are Josh Plourde, creative strategist at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and member of Bangor’s Commission on Cultural Development; Nelson Durgin, incumbent city council chairman; Gibran Graham, marketing coordinator at the downtown book and toy store Briar Patch and board member of the Downtown Bangor Partnership; Victor Kraft, a Bangor-based private investigator and former police chief of Indian Island and Thomaston; Hal Wheeler, a former councilor who served from 1983 to 1986 and from 2007 to 2010; and current first-term city councilor Charlie Longo.
The school committee candidates are Sue Hawes, a full-time instructor at Beal College and current city councilor who is terming out this year; Jay Ye, a physician and biomedical researcher who is wrapping up his first term on the school committee; and Sue Sorg, an 18-year adapted physical education specialist in the Bangor School Department who also has led local Special Olympics programs. One seat currently is held by Ye and the other was vacated by former committee member Kate Dickerson when she resigned in October 2012.
Polls will be open until 8 p.m. Tuesday. Bangor’s Community Connector buses will be offering free rides to the polls for voters on Election Day.
A constant stream of voters made their way into Hampden’s town hall Tuesday morning, and by 9 a.m. the new electronic ballot counting system which was put into place this year already had tallied more than 108 voters.
“It’s been steady,” Town Clerk Denise Hodsdon said. “We had very light absentee voting.”
Two local candidates stood outside to greet voters. Hampden has three people running for Town Council, uncontested school board posts, several proposed ordinance amendments and a local referendum question.
Sixty voters had cast their ballots at Brewer Auditorium by about 7:45 a.m., which is when Deputy City Clerk Christine Landes left the auditorium to staff the town hall.
Brewer has five candidates vying for two seats on the City Council, uncontested school board and trustee seat votes and a local referendum question. More than five local candidates were outside the auditorium.
Town officials gave out 141 absentee ballots, some that have yet to be returned, she said.
“They have until 8 p.m. tonight to return them,” Landers said.
The city also mailed 28 municipal election packets to military service members overseas.
“They get the state ballot from the state and have to mail it back to the state,” the deputy city clerk said.
BDN writer Seth Koenig and photographer Gabor Degre contributed to this report.
An earlier version of this story spelled Christine Landes' name incorrectly as Landers.