, Derry, New Hampshire

November 29, 2012

Derry officials applaud voting day successes

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — It was a banner election day in Derry.

Not only did thousands of new voters sign up at the polls Nov. 6, but approximately 16,500 of the town’s 17,500-plus checklist cast ballots.

The day was pretty smooth, town officials said, but some things could be done better.

With three polling places open, including Pinkerton Academy, voters lined up for most of the day to vote or sign up to be new voters.

“We had the last voters coming into the booth at 8:40 p.m.,” Town Administrator John Anderson said.

Preliminary results were read to the public by 10 p.m. at Pinkerton, something the town hasn’t seen streamlined like this in a while at such an early hour.

“It was a breakthrough for all of us to get those totals,” Anderson said.

He thanked the entire team of poll workers and town staff who helped the election process move smoothly.

With so many people turning out to vote, Anderson said, it was the help of many hands that made it a successful operation.

Now it’s time to think ahead and see what can be done to streamline voting procedures in town even more.

That could mean doing more to make absentee voting easier for residents and also for those counting the ballots.

About 30 percent of the town’s 1,250 absentee ballots were mailed in by those serving overseas or out of town.

Others came to the polls in an envelope on voting day to be turned in.

Anderson said by adding another voting machine, the absentee process could be made more efficient. He said town officials will work with the state to see how to make the process better.

Keeping the town’s polling locations consistent is also a goal.

“We want to make it as less confusing as possible,” Anderson said.

Some people came to the polls and weren’t sure what district they lived in. Volunteers were on hand to offer maps and information.

“People have busy lives,” Anderson said. “We don’t have to make their lives more difficult. We’re lucky they show up to vote, but let’s make it as easy as possible.”

As for the Pinkerton setup, Anderson said it worked well, but could work better.

Residents of Districts 1 and 3 voted at the Derry high school. Voters entered lines according to their names to get a ballot.

People waited in another line to register to vote for the first time.

The lines were often crossing and mixed a bit, Anderson said.

“All day long, we had a line starting down the corridor (of the gym) past the trophies, of people just registering to vote,” he said.

Anderson credited Town Clerk Denise Neale, moderator Margie Ives and all the election volunteers who turned out to make the day a big success. Getting the process to the most optimal point is the next step.

“John Q. Public wants to come in, vote and go home,” Anderson said. “Let’s make it as simple as possible. That’s the goal as we move forward.”