Voter turnout high despite weather

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(Host) Voters in Windsor County were not deterred by the rain and cold temperatures as they turned out to vote in what may turn out to be record numbers.

VPR’s Betty Smith visited the polls in Weathersfield and West Windsor.

(Smith) By midday Tuesday it was clear that ballot counting in Weathersfield and West Windsor would last well into the night. Weathersfield Justice of the Peace Lorraine Zigman was working the polls.

(Zigman) “There’s been an onslaught of voters, a deluge, a big, big turnout. In the first two hours we had over 200 voters and we have over 300 absentee ballots. That is a very large turnout, exceedingly large turnout.”

(Smith) The unusual number of early voters persuaded Weathersfield town Clerk Flo-Ann Dango to make some changes at the polls.

(Dango) “We’ve had a record turnout for early voters, 372. I’ve added eight new stations, sort of a last minute plea to the Secretary of State’s office because we would not have had enough booths to get everybody through today.”

(Smith) In West Windsor town clerk Cathy Archibald described voter turnout this way.

(Archibald) “Steady. We had a line right out the door for the first hour and a half.”

(Smith) Even a steady, cold rain didn’t dampen voter determination.

(Voter) “Just want to vote. You can’t control the weather. That’s right.” (Laughs.)

(Smith) As they exited the polls, voters expressed concerns that ranged from the war on terror and the draft, to health care, the economy, taxes, social security and the environment. Some voters reported feeling worried, frustrated, and even depressed:

(Jean Sangal) “I’m a little depressed, mainly because of our involvement in Iraq and not having the rest of the world helping out.”

(Smith) While others were feeling cautiously optimistic.

(McCullough) “The main issues? Oh I believe bring this country back together. This is the United States of America, not a divided country. I’m an ex-career service man and I don’t know, I have mixed emotions but I’m just hoping that the best comes out in the end.”

(Smith) Perhaps Justice of the Peace Paul Kelly, working at the polls in West Windsor summed up the mood of the voters best.

(Kelly) “Their mood is, we’re going to vote. We had over 300 in the first three hours and that’s pretty scrumptious for Brownsville, or West Windsor. Yeah, good turnout here. So if that’s any indication of the rest of the world, it’s going to be a big turnout.”

(Smith) And that prediction proved to be a good one. It took the West Windsor vote counters until nearly 11 o’clock to finish the tally, reporting a turnout of 83 percent, the largest Town Clerk Cathy Archibald has seen in her ten years of service.

From Windsor County for Vermont Public Radio, I’m Betty Smith.

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