Midterm elections see impressive voter turnout

by Wally Joe Cook | 11/7/18 3:00am

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Hanover High School is the designated voting place in Hanover, NH. 

by Divya Kopalle / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

On Nov. 6, Dartmouth students and Hanover residents voted at Hanover High School with a turnout comparable to the 2016 presidential election. Ann McLane Kuster won the New Hampshire 2nd Congressional district representative. While State Senator Molly Kelly won Grafton County, Governor Chris Sununu won his bid for reelection.

In Hanover, Democratic candidate Kelly won the district with 5,032 votes, compared with Sununu’s 1,066. Kuster won Hanover with 5,358 votes to 752 votes for Republican candidate Steven Negron.

Members of the Dartmouth Class of 2020 Garrett Muscatel ’20 and Baronet “Webb” Harrington ’20 were both running to represent the town of Hanover in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Muscatel, a Democrat, won 4,795 votes when the polls closed. Harrington, a Republican, only received 959 votes in Hanover.

A total of 6,166 people voted yesterday, whereas 1,581 people voted in this year’s primary election. In the 2014 midterm election, 4,687 total votes were cast, which represented 51.21 percent voter turnout.

Jill Potter, a Hanover resident who helped manage the polling station, said she was impressed by voter turnout.

“Turnout is incredible,” Potter said. “There were 120 people waiting out the door at 7 a.m.”

At 1 p.m., there was still a 50-person line to register to vote. To register, new voters had to fill out an informational form and either provide proof of citizenship or sign a document saying that they were citizens. The Undergraduate Housing Office was on-site to help the town clerk register students to vote. Dartmouth students who live on-campus only needed their student identification card to register.

This year, 1,077 people registered on-site, a large increase compared to the 140 people who registered on-site in this year’s primary election. In the 2016 general election, 1,236 people registered on-site.

Kuster made an appearance at the polls around 2 p.m., where she thanked people for voting.

“It’s great to see so many students,” Kuster said.

Hanover town clerk Betsy McClain was likewise impressed by the turnout.

“If we compare this to the last midterm, the turnout has been much greater this time,” she said. “One of my colleagues said that the vibe was different from two years ago — it’s much more upbeat.”

McClain added that some voters even wore “patriotic onesies” to the polls to express their excitement, partially crediting Dartmouth students for the enthusiasm.

“There has been much more organized engagement in terms of people being prepared for registration,” she said. “We hope that the crowds continue to show up until 7 p.m.”

However, McClain added that there were issues with same day registration at the polls, citing “confusion about what parts of the form need to be filled out.”

Nevertheless, Anoop Nanda ’21 said that he thought that registering to vote was simple.

“It was definitely easier than I expected,” he said. “I just hopped on the shuttle [from campus] and there was a short line [to register at the polls].”

A shuttle van ran from outside of Robinson Hall to Hanover High School all day.

Peter Christie, chairman of the Hanover Select Board, helped manage the event and encouraged people to vote.

“At the end of the day, it’s really our only way to effect change,” he said.

Potter said that many voters were also eager to effect change.

“I think we will beat the 8,000 [voter count] from 2016,” she said. “At 1:38 p.m., there were already about 4,000 votes cast.”

Bobbie Hitchcock, who managed absentee ballot collection, said that she had already received over 800 absentee ballots by noon and expected more by the end of the day.

“There were 465 absentees in last midterm and about 1200 in the general election,” she added.

McClain said that she was hopeful that total voter turnout would be higher than the 2016 election.