Voter turnout was heavy throughout Southern New Hampshire yesterday, creating long lines and causing major delays at polls in some towns.
The polls were scheduled to close at 7 p.m. in Salem, but hundreds of voters were still lined up in the cold outside the Ingram Senior Center. Voters were also still waiting to cast ballots at Mary Fisk School. There were traffic jams at both locations, with voters parking on the grass and sidewalks.
In Londonderry, people waited in line for an hour and a half to register to vote. The last vote was cast at Londonderry High School at 9:53 p.m., nearly two hours after the polls were to close. Voting went smoothly — despite brief waits — in other area towns.
Some Salem voters waited in line at least an hour and a half. The last votes were cast about 8 p.m. but those people had to be either in line or walking up to the polls at 7 p.m., town moderator Chris Goodnow said.
Same-day voter registration and complying with the state’s new Voter ID Law contributed to the delays, along with the need to count an unprecedented number of absentee ballots, election officials said.
But the heavy turnout, projected by Secretary of State William Gardner to exceed 70 percent statewide, was mostly due to strong interest in the presidential and gubernatorial races.
Preliminary numbers showed a voter turnout of 88 percent in Derry and at least 80 percent in Londonderry. Hampstead had 83 percent, Atkinson had 82 percent and Plaistow had 80.2 percent.
Before the election, Gardner predicted about 722,000 Granite Staters would vote. The previous record was in 2008 — when roughly 719,000 voted. Statewide totals were not available last night.
Election officials throughout the area said there were no problems complying with the Voter ID Law. Ballot workers asked voters to have their photo IDs ready when checking in.