Voter turnout continued to be high late this afternoon, as people flocked to the polls across the Merrimack Valley.
Voters and poll workers said the heavy turnout, which began with the 7 a.m. opening of the polls, was driven by the variety of races, especially for president and U.S. Senate, as well as local races.
When the heavy voting continued toward midday, elections officials predicted a turnout of 70 percent or more across the Valley, from Haverhill to Lawrence, Methuen and the Andovers. Usually, there is an early-morning rush on election day, followed by a lull until the lunch hour.
Late this afternoon, voting was still steady before the expected post-work dinner hour rush.
North Andover Town Clerk Joyce Bradshaw said at 3 p.m. things were "very busy."
In Haverhill, elections workers were dealing with a steady stream of voters through the afternoon, and bracing for one more rush before polls close at 8 p.m.
"Things will get hectic after 5 p.m.,'' poll Warden Larry Hicks said late this afternoon at Nettle School, Ward 4, Precinct 1. "This morning, the lines were out the door.''
Christina Touma-Conway, Methuen's City Clerk, said turnout at 4 p.m. was about 42 percent, but she expected more people to come out after work.
"There are lines, but they’re moving pretty quickly," she said. "When I was out this morning it was very crowded, much more than when I was out between 2 and 4 this afternoon. I suspect it’s picked up with people getting out of work."
She said she sent out extra boxes to seal completed ballots in after the polls close in case the boxes already at polling stations cannot handle the turnout.
He said the first voter at the poll this morning arrived at 6:15 p.m., 45 minutes before the doors opened. As of 4 p.m., 1,078 ballots had been cast at the Nettle School poll, which has about 2,000 registered voters.