EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Election Connection

November 6, 2012

Crush of voters result in long waits, traffic jams, headaches

From traffic jams to jammed voting machines, the “sheer number” of voters flooding polls across the Merrimack Valley created headaches for poll workers and long lines for voters.

At Lawrence’s Partham School, 400 people stood in a line that looped through the lobby at 7 p.m., enduring a wait that was two hours and growing. The doors to the polling place were locked on schedule at 8 p.m., but everyone on line at that point would be allowed to vote, said Lt. Shawn Conway, who supervises police at polling places.

For Darlysha Gonzalez and her mother, Minerva, the wait was exacerbated by the fact they originally showed up at the wrong polling place.

“We were at the Rowley School for an hour,” Darlysha Gonzalez, describing their wait to reach the head of the line there, only to be told by an election clerk that they were at the wrong place. “Here, we’ve been on line two hours.”

The two said they saw several other voters leave the Partham School in disgust, but Conway said there had been no angry incidents and poll worker Heidi Stokes said voters were being “really polite.”

Earlier in the day the wait was shorter but still long enough at the Valebrook apartment complex on Summer Street in Lawrence. About 100 people stood in a line that snaked from the registration table down a dark hallway to a bank of elevators.

Precinct B-4 Warden Jason Iarossi said there were so many voters on the inactive list that he was running low on affidavits people must sign to attest they are who they say they are.

In addition, the two-page ballot was causing problems because people weren’t voting on the referendums, causing the counting machine to spit those ballots out.

He said the heavy crowd was unprecedented.

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