Election Day 2020 Live Blog: "Spectacular Turnout," Record Number Of Absentee Ballots Returned | New Hampshire Public Radio

Election Day 2020 Live Blog: "Spectacular Turnout," Record Number Of Absentee Ballots Returned

1 hour ago

It's Election Day, and NHPR's newsroom is covering events as they unfold across the state. With the 2020 vote being shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and deep political divisions, it's been a cycle like no other.


Scroll down for live news updates from our reporters around the state.

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Election Day Live Blog

5:55 p.m.

More Granite Staters than ever are choosing to vote absentee this year, but poll workers in Laconia say they were surprised at the high turnout of in-person voters.

Kevin Coyne said he decided to vote in person to make sure his vote was counted: "All the talk about the mail-in ballots and Trump having objections to it...I decided I'm just going to go. I don't want to worry about it, I'll just go like I usually do and vote in person."

New Hampshire election officials started pre-processing ballots earlier this week. They said only a small number have been rejected, and poll workers are encouraged to notify those voters.

- Jordyn Haime

5:40 p.m.

Same day registration trend continues in Lebanon

Photo by Daniela Allee: Lebanon Ward 3 is reporting a lot of same day registrations - as other N.H. towns are - more than 200 people. Moderator Karen Sheehan says everyone's complied with wearing masks and they haven't had to use their mask-less room at all today. Here she is going through absentee ballots.

Lebanon Moderator Karen Sheehan goes through absentee ballots
Credit Daniela Allee | NHPR

Meanwhile, Ward 2 Moderator Crystallee Newton says about 2400 people have voted so far. There are 3184 registered voters in the ward, with about another 200 new registrants today.

5:10 p.m.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes arrived at Concord's Ward 5 and greeted supporters with elbow bumps.

Dan Feltes elbow bumps supporters
Credit Maureen McMurray | NHPR

Dover Ward 4 moderator Kate Hill says they haven't had any of the problems they expected with "armed observers" or "confrontational poll watchers" at their Elks' Lodge voting center.

Instead she says they've had "massive turnout" - hundreds in line when polls opened, enough that they needed police help managing it. She says it's all moved smoothly, and there was no line as of 5pm.

Hill estimates 30-50% of registered voters in the ward voted absentee. "But we've had so many people come through, too," she says. "We're going to break all the records tonight."

Though she preferred to remain unnamed, one Dover woman has stood outside the Elks' Lodge all day holding a custom neon Trump sign, crafted by her husband. She says they have another, larger, sign at home on their farm.

- Annie Ropeik

A Dover woman holds a custom neon sign outside Dover's Ward 4 polling location
Credit Annie Ropiek, NHPR

4:55 p.m.

Waterville sees boost in voting rolls

Acting Moderator Joan Sweeney says there was a line out the door at 11 when the polls opened and it’s been a mildly steady flow since. One difference this year – the new residents in town.

"Because of COVID, we've had a huge rush of new residents to town this year. So that's changed our demographics, not so much party-wise, I don't know where we are. But basically, starting the day, we had 403...with 15, 20 new ones at this point."

- Sean Hurley

4:20 p.m.

Photo by Annie Ropeik: There's a bit of a line for same-day registrations - but no line for voting - at Woodman Park Elementary School, the polling place for Ward 2 in Dover. The moderator there estimates the ward will see as many walk-in votes as absentee ballots by the end of the day.

Voters cast ballots Tuesday afternoon at Ward 2 in Dover
Credit Annie Ropeik | NHPR

4:10 p.m.

Steady turnout in Claremont

As a 17 year old, Emily Herbert can't vote, but she spent three hours today volunteering at Ward 2 in Claremont, where she cleaned pens and handed out protective sheets for ballots. Herbert says it's exciting seeing the voting process up close for the first time.

"It's definitely made me feel part of the community," she said. "They're voting and they're getting their vote in."

Alison Raymond has been the moderator for Ward 2 for 10 years. She says voters this year paid close attention to the rules for absentee voting. So far, she hasn’t had to reject any absentee ballots.

"We did not have one issue with 500 absentee ballots," she said.

Raymond described today's voter turnout as steady. By 3 p.m. more than 60 percent of the ward's registered voters had cast a ballot.

- Daniela Allee

Ward 2 in Claremont, where turnout has been steady, according to the election moderator
Credit Daniela Allee | NHPR

4:00 p.m.  

Video by Dan Tuohy: Scenes from Election Day in New Hampshire

3:55 p.m.

Some delays, lines for new registrations in Bedford

Election officials in Bedford say despite a record number of absentee ballots this year, many voters are showing up to the polls to vote in person. Town moderator Bill Klein says there are some delays for new voters needing to register at the polls. By mid-afternoon that line was taking up to 45 minutes.

"We're doing the very best that we can and I hope people are understanding of that and realize," he said, "but I know everybody is stressed!"

Election monitors are keeping tabs on wait times there, and say once registered, most voters are able to cast their ballots quickly.

- Sarah Gibson

The line for same-day voter registration in Bedford.
Credit Sarah Gibson | NHPR

3:20 p.m.

Smooth sailing for afternoon voters in Rochester

Some voters in Rochester's Ward 5 were pleasantly surprised by the ease of casting their ballots today. The city community center saw a long line in the first few hours of voting, but it died down by mid-afternoon. 

Voter Lisa Holt said she was expecting a long line of frustrated people. Instead, she found a quiet polling place and smooth experience.

"Everyone who helped was friendly, the people in there kept a safe distance, and it was a really easy process," she said. 

David Zane said he thinks concerns about Election Day issues were over-hyped.

"'Cause we thought, 'oh boy, there'll be long lines,' what you see on the internet," he said. "Nothing! It's well organized and it was easy."

Zane said he's not stressed about learning the election results, even if they take a little longer than normal to be finalized.

- Annie Ropeik 

A relatively quiet Ward 5 in Rochester
Credit Annie Ropeik | NHPR

2:40 p.m.

State rep: Voting absentee out of fear is "wrong"

New Hampshire polling places are seeing a record number of absentee ballots this year, including in Franklin's Ward 1, where more than 300 absentee ballots were recorded by midday.

Dave Testerman, a Republican state rep running for reelection in Franklin, campaigned outside of the polls today. He said he was happy to be able to vote in person, and chose to do so without a mask.

"I absolutely voted in person," he said. "I believe that voting absentee when you don't have a reason for it, other than you're afraid, is wrong."

Many New Hampshire polling places have separate areas for voters who choose not to wear a mask. Voters who wish to cast an absentee ballot because of COVID-19 are allowed to do so.

- Jordyn Haime

Republican state rep Dave Testerman campaigns outside of Ward 1 in Franklin.
Credit Jordyn Haime | NHPR

2:00 p.m.

Long lines reported at New Hampshire polling places

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bryant "Corky" Messner thanks volunteers in Stratham. "Democracy works," he says about the visibly high turnout. "This is great."
Credit Todd Bookman | NHPR

Some polling places around the state are reporting long lines, likely resulting from the combination of high turnout and more social distancing.

In Stratham earlier today, lines stretched into the parking lot, with moderators reporting a 35-minute wait. Poll volunteer Paul Anthony seemed a bit in awe.

“Never seen anything like it before. I’ve lived in Stratham for 33 years, and I’ve never missed a vote, and I’ve never seen the line like this," he said. "Turnout is just spectacular.”

Polls close at different times in different communities. According to guidance provided by the Secretary of State's office to New Hampshire election officials, would-be voters who are waiting in line when poll closures are announced must be allowed to register and vote.

For more information about your community's polling hours, contact your town clerk or local voting officials.

- Todd Bookman

1:30 p.m.

At Ward 5 in Concord, poll workers hold stacks of absentee ballots to feed into the machine in between the ballots of in-person voters. A truck carrying a Trump/Pence sign is parked outside. Photos by Cori Princell.

Scenes from Ward 5 in Concord
Credit Cori Princell for NHPR

12:55 p.m.

What you're telling us about your voting experience

Have you seen something unusual, amiss, or wonderful today? How did voting go for you? Send us an email at elections@nhpr.org.

Here are some more voters we've heard from today (scroll down for earlier contributions):  

Jill Therriault says she was in and out of the Northwood polls in about 20 minutes - and got a sticker.
Credit Courtesy photo

I was an election volunteer today in Exeter. As part of a team that opened absentee ballots, we opened over 5000 ballots. I watched. Very long lines all morning. I am pleased as a 93 year old to see hundreds of new voters come through. - Don Doane


Just voted in Gilmanton and signed up as a first-time voter. Everything went very smoothly. Just saddened...that Gilmanton had run out of "I voted!" stickers, yet it is a good sign for democracy. - Larry Shields


I voted in Northwood at around 8:15/8:30 and was in and out in about 20 minutes. Everyone in line with me was cheerful and poll workers were friendly and efficient. A great experience all around! (And I got my sticker.) - Jill Therriault


For the first time in 18 years voting here [there] was actually a line this morning in Greenville - though it did move quickly. I feel this is the most critical vote in my lifetime. - Deb Spratt


12:25 p.m.

"A sense of doom"

Some voters say they're glad to see see people coming together on Election Day, despite political differences. Michela Marsh is a voter in Ward Two in Portsmouth.

Marsh says she woke up feeling a sense of doom.

"But showing up at the polls on this bright sunny day despite holding signs from opposing parties makes me feel a lot of hope," she says.

- Tat Bellamy Walker