Towns prepare for election day process

At left, Londonderry Assistant Town Moderator Cindi Rice Conley and Town Clerk Sherry Farrell, at right, go over the process to test ballot counting machines in preparation for the General Election Nov. 8. At center is resident Laura El-Azem, who came into Town Hall as an observer to watch the process.

Communities are gearing up for the General Election Nov. 8, with officials and workers spending time this week organizing, preliminary ballot counts and testing the machines that will process vote tallies.

Many towns have long lists of candidates to consider, including incumbents and newcomers running for state representative jobs along with county and federal races to decide.

In Londonderry Tuesday morning, town officials and election workers gathered at Town Hall to process stacks of ballots received — 17,000 — leading up to election day.

Election workers sat at long tables to review and count stacks of ballots.

In another corner of the room, Town Moderator Jonathan Kipp, Assistant Moderator Cindi Rice Conley and Town Clerk Sherry Farrell were working on testing the ballot counting machines.

All was going well and as planned, according to Supervisors of the Checklist member Kirsten Hildonen, saying the testing of the machines was giving “perfect results.”

During the primary election in September, many communities processed ballots well into the early hours of the following morning due to the number of write-in votes and hand counted ballots.

Londonderry’s primary night took a bit longer to get completed, Kipp said, but the moderator added he is proud of the town’s process and organization, with early results being released around midnight.

“We were extremely confident in the result,” he said. “But we learned some lessons from the primary.”

More training was expected to be done this week, including more instruction on how to properly hand count ballots.

Londonderry voters will head to the polls at the high school gymnasium on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Following September’s primary in Derry, officials reported to the Town Council that Derry, too, had a good group of people working together on election day and night.

But Derry’s count and vote tallies went well into the early morning hours of the following day, almost to 3 a.m. when all was said and done.

Town Clerk Tina Guilford told councilors then that more help would be needed for the Nov. 8 General Election.

About 30 more election workers are expected to help.

And officials credited all who came out to stay so long to get the job done.

“It takes a lot of people to effectively run an election,” said Derry Town Moderator Lisa Hultgren after the primary. “We came together as part of a team.”

Primary election day in Derry saw approximately 4,600 voters come through the polling location at Calvary Bible Church, the town’s sole voting spot for all four districts.

About 170 new voters registered at the polls, and voters were also able to sign in using the new Poll Pad technology.

The Poll Pad has also been used in Londonderry for several years as a way to streamline the voter check-in process.

And reasons why the tallying of ballots and hand counting went so late primary night in Derry was due to several reasons, Guilford said, including counting write-in ballots.

Some voters also “don’t trust” the voting machines,” Guilford added, so those ballots had to be hand counted due to some voters writing in candidates’ names who were already printed on the ballot.

Derry was also set to test its ballot counting machines this week.

Derry voters will cast ballots on Nov. 8 at Calvary Bible Church, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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