EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 6, 2012

Long line at Valebrook precinct in Lawrence has some waiting 30 to 45 minutes to vote

LAWRENCE — Scores of voters are flooding the city's voting precincts, waiting in line up to 45 minutes to cast their ballots in some cases.

At the Valebrook apartment complex at the corner of Summer and Union streets, about 100 people stood in a line that snaked from registration table down a dark hallway to a bank of elevators.

The B-4 precinct 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 2-page ballot was causing problems because people weren't voting on the referendum questions, causing the counting machine to spit those ballots out.

He said the heavy crowd was unprecedented.

"I've worked for years on elections and I've never seen it like this," he said. "Just the sheer number of people."

As of noon, some 630 people had cast ballots at the precinct, although that number was probably low, given that so many of the ballots had been rejected and were sitting in a slot on the side of the machine.

"I just talked to my boss (at City Hall) and he said it's like this all over the city," Iarossi said.

Jose Santiago, who is running for state representative in Lawrence against incumbent Marcos Devers, said the city wasn't ready for the crush of people.

"The lines are too long," said Santiago, who was standing inside precinct B-1 at the Frost School in Lawrence. "They were not prepared. People are going to vote at lunch break from work and they don't have enough time to vote."

Some people, however, didn't mind the wait.

Nancy Nunez, of Haverhill, had escorted her mother, Maria Santiago, 69, of Lawrence, to the polling place.

She said they waited 30 to 45 minutes.

"We didn't mind waiting," Nunez said. "We voted for Obama. We trust him."

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