Voter turnout is steady at polls around Aroostook

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Voting inside the Sargent Family Community Center got off to a slow start Tuesday, but as the day progressed voters showed up in more numbers to cast their ballots.

By 10:30 a.m., roughly 276 Presque Isle residents had voted in the off-year election. On the ballot were 8 referendum questions, uncontested municipal elections for two Presque Isle city council seats and two seats for the SAD1 school board.

Voter turnout was steady in Houlton, according to Town Clerk Khylee Wampler. 

A mixed bag of rain and snow could have kept some voters away, but by late morning the parking lot at the Gentle Memorial Building on Main Street in Houlton was beginning to fill with voters ready to cast their state and local ballots.

There are 3,801 registered voters in the Aroostook County town. 

HOULTON, Maine — Nov. 7, 2023 — There was steady voter turn-out at the Houlton Gentle Memorial Building on Main Street for Tuesday’s voting. (Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli | Houlton Pioneer Times)

Wampler said Tuesday’s turnout was about normal, but nothing like the long lines of voters for presidential elections. The Houlton polls close at 8 p.m.

“I think it’s really important for young people to come in and vote,” said Catherine Hoffman, an independent voter in Presque Isle. “Just because we are young and some of us have just started voting doesn’t mean our voices aren’t just as important as everybody else’s.”

We should be paying attention to which direction the government wants the county to go in and how it is run, Hoffman said.

Turnout was pretty steady despite the dreary weather, according to election warden Jayne Farrin. 

In the interviews conducted with voters after their ballots were cast some voters turned out for the Pine Tree Power Question while others were getting out to participate to let their voice be heard during the off year election.

“I would probably say the main reason [was Pine Tree Power],” said Gene Lunney, a Democrat.

Republican voters Jane and Karl Drampf didn’t want their electric bills going up, along with everything else due to this year’s high inflation.

“I didn’t want that electric [Pine Tree Power] to go through,” Jane said. “There’s a lot of questions on [the ballot] so I am sure everybody has a different reason for being here.”

Karl Drampf also was running a petition table to get 3,000 signatures to get Donald Trump on the Maine ballot for next year’s Presidential race. The turnout was light for today, he said.

Another petition table was for a question to appear on next year’s ballot called An Act to Limit Contributions to Political Action Committees That Make Independent Expenditures that would limit super pac contributions to $5,000 per year for any entity, including candidates. The signatures required for the question are 36,000.

“We want to make sure that in the state of Maine that elections are local, the money is local, and everything is local,” said Matthew Mitchell, an independent contractor collecting signatures for the ballot question.