WELLS, Maine — Two selectmen are hoping that some adjustments can be made at the polls during the town’s upcoming elections.
The Wells Board of Selectmen met the day after the recent municipal and state election. During the “Good News” segment of the meeting, Selectman John Howarth told Town Manager Jonathan Carter that several people approached him on Election Day and expressed hopes that the local polls could open at 7 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.
“I was there (at the polls) at about quarter of seven, and there were a lot of folks already in line,” Howarth said.
Such voters were there to cast their ballots in the junior high gym before reporting to work, according to Howarth. He said that the line stretched all the way back to the parking lot, and many people had to leave without voting first because they had to go to work. He added that some people returned to the polls at the end of the work day, only to find the same long line.
Typically, the polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during local elections.
Selectman Daniel Hobbs said he did not get a lot of comments from voters regarding hopes for an earlier start to election days, but he did note that an additional line might be needed to help voters get in and out of the polls at a quicker and more efficient rate.
To get their ballots, voters stand in one of three lines organized according to the alphabetical listings of their last names. One line is for voters with last names beginning with letters A through F. Another is for voters with last names starting with G through M. The final line is for voters whose last names begin with letters N through Z.
Hobbs said that those in the first two lines, whose last names began with letters A through M, “breezed right through” when obtaining their ballots. Those whose last names began with N through Z, however, had to stand in line for a long time, he added.
“They have to have a fourth line to get them going faster,” Hobbs said. “They were waiting too long.”
Carter said he would contact Town Clerk Jessica Keyes to set up a workshop to discuss whether anything can be done to address the two issues Howarth and Hobbs raised.
Carter praised Keyes and her staff and volunteers for the good job they all did on Election Day. Carter said Keyes and the others started working that day as early as seven in the morning and kept going until well after midnight.
“It was a very long day,” Carter said. “It was a very heavy turnout.”
Vice Chairman Timothy Roche presided over the meeting. Chairman Karl Ekstedt and Selectwoman Kathy Chase were absent.
Roche congratulated Hobbs for winning the race for the Maine House District 7 seat. Hobbs ran against fellow selectman Howarth for the seat, and Roche commended both men for the campaigns they ran.
“It was nice in our day and age that both candidates ran a very clean and pleasant campaign, rather than what we’re seeing elsewhere in the country,” Roche said. “I think it’s a good example for our youth that are looking to run.”