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September 6, 2012

Voters, candidates remain upbeat in spite of low turnout for today's primary

Wanda Rivera, an elections warden at the District E-4 precinct on Salem Street in Lawrence, sat on a bench outside the polling place yesterday, soaking in some rays.

"It's going to be a long day," she said. Inside, precinct clerk Julio Tejeda was speaking with a voter - one of just 42 who had cast a ballot as of 10:30 a.m. today. Tejeda predicted about 100 people would vote in the precinct today.

"We'll probably get 7 to 8 percent turnout," he said.

Across the Merrimack Valley, elections officials spoke of a dismal turnout for the primary election, with just 3 percent voting in North Andover as of noon.

Things were a little better in Andover, where 3.6 percent of active voters had cast ballots by 9 a.m., according to Town Clerk Lawrence Murphy. He said he hoped for a 15 percent turnout by the end of the day.

"Unfortunately, this is very typical of a primary," Murphy said, adding, however, that the last primary saw a turnout of 29 percent, while one in 2006 had just 11 percent.

He was more optimistic about the general election in November, when he thinks the town may hit the 90 percent turnout mark because of the interest in the presidential and U.S. Senate races.

In Haverhill, just 36 ballots were cast by 9 a.m. at Ward 4, Precinct 2 located in the Hartleb Technology Center at Northern Essex Community College.

"I'm not surprised at the turnout as it's a Thursday, opposed to the normal Tuesday voting day, and it's a primary," Warden Ron Sarofian said. "Normally, during a big election, the line at the Second Baptist Church was out the door. But, we do expect it to pick up later in the day."

Other precincts reported similar results.

At the Diamond Spring Gardens polling place in Lawrence, usually one of the top voting districts in the city, just 71 people had voted by 10:30 a.m., or about 1 percent of the active voters for District E-1.

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