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November 6, 2012

Police respond to traffic snarls at poll as heavy voter turnout continues

Inactive voter list also slows balloting

Voter turnout in Andover was so heavy late this morning that drivers approaching the high school poll from the west were backed up nearly a mile.

Police went to the area and were talking about setting up detours.

Rather than waiting in traffic, some people parked on side streets near the school and walked to the building to vote.

Traffic on Shawsheen Road was backed up to Route 133 at one point, as voters flocked to the high school poll. Inside the building, the numbers showed a heavy turnout. At 10 a.m., 5,116 people had cast ballots — nearly 25 percent of the total number of registered voters.

The heavy turnout caused some problems with machines that count ballots. At one point, a machine got jammed because of the number of ballots placed inside it. With a police officer watching, election workers opened the machine, removed the ballots and placed them in a box, which was then locked.

Some Andover people said besides the presidential election, they were drawn to vote by the U.S. Senate campaign between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

Robert Marsh, 65, of Andover said he voted for Brown.

"He's an independent voice,'' Marsh said. "He did a good job and he deserves to go back.''

Late this morning in Haverhill, the heavy turnout at Bradford Elementary School (Ward 7, Precinct 3) included residents whose names had been placed on the city's inactive voter list. So many of them showed up that an election worker had to be stationed in a hallway to check their identifications, which is required when someone is on that list.

Voters are placed on the inactive list when they fail to return a census or have not voted in recent elections, according to elections officials. By late morning, 50 people who showed up at Bradford Elementary to vote had to show their identifications and sign paperwork because they were on the inactive list.

"We've never done anything like this before,'' said poll worker Bruce Nelson, who ran the inactive voter station in a school hallway.

Warden Jan Mulford said based on this morning's heavy voting, she expects an 80 percent turnout at Bradford Elementary by the time polls close at 8 p.m.



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