Double whammy of high turnout and social distancing leads to lines of voters snaking around buildings

  • A voter takes a photo of the line at Ward 5 as they wait to vote on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

  • The voting line stretched out to Green Street from the entrance of the Ward 5 voting area on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Jim MacKay was the first candidate to get to the polls at Ward 4 on Tuesday morning, November 3, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

  • The voting line stretched out to Green Street from the entrance of the Ward 5 voting area on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • A line of about 40 Ward 3 Nashua voters drapes around the Amherst Street Elementary School at 9 am. —Sheryl Rich-Kern

  • A sign at the Green Street Community Center, the polling place for Ward 5, designates specific areas for masked and unmasked voters on Nov. 3, 2020. A poll volunteer said that by 11 a.m. they had seen two people who insisted on voting unmasked. Eileen O'Grady—Monitor Staff

  • A table of volunteers at the Ward 5 polling location at Green Street Community Center works to register new voters at 10 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2020. New Hampshire is one of 21 states that allows voters to register on Election Day. Eileen O'Grady—Monitor Staff

  • Political volunteers hold signs outside the Ward 5 polling place at Green Street Community Center on Nov. 3, 2020. Eileen O'Grady—Monitor Staff

  • Lines of voters seen from above Winnacunnet High Brian Nevins, courtesy—Seacoastonline.com

  • NHPR's Todd Bookman visited a polling place in Stratham, where he captured a long line of voters waiting to cast their ballots. Todd Bookman—NHPR

  • Voters line up at 7:30 a.m. outside the Ward 9 polling location at Citywide Community Center on Nov. 3, 2020. The line stretched down the sidewalk and around the corner. Eileen O'Grady—Monitor Staff

  • Political volunteers hold signs outside the Ward 9 polling location at Citywide Community Center at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2020. Eileen O'Grady—Monitor Staff

  • Poll volunteer Jonathan Osborne directs voters into the polling site at Bow Community Building in Bow on Tuesday. EILEEN O’GRADY / Monitor staff

  • Voters arrive and stand in line at Epsom Bible Church on Tuesday morning, November 3, 2020. Long lines have been reported around the area. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Concord police officer Mark Hassapes was sent to Ward 4 at the Boys and Girls Club to monitor traffic but looks over the large line of voters on Tuesday morning. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Concord police officer Mark Hassapes was sent to Ward 4 at the Boys and Girls Club to monitor traffic but looks over the large line of voters on Tuesday morning, November 3, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Supports hold signs outside the Belmont High School polling place on Friday morning, November 3, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By staff and wire reports
Published: 11/3/2020 5:41:27 PM

At Pembroke Academy, the line of voters formed in the parking lot by 6 a.m.

In Hampton, a drone captured a photo of voters wrapping around Winnacunnet High School waiting to get inside to cast a ballot. 

Lines formed throughout the day in Derry, which is home to one of the largest polling places in the country. More than 19,000 voters were expected to go through the polling place ay Pinkerton Academy on Tuesday, roughly 2,000 more than in 2016. Election volunteers took to social media to update voters about the wait times.

At virtually every ward in Concord, voters stacked up as they wore masks and tried to stay at least six feet apart.

The story all across New Hampshire Tuesday – from Portsmouth to Keene, from Weare to Plymouth – was about the lines created by the double whammy of high voter turnout and social distancing.    

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner had predicted Tuesday would be a once-in-a-lifetime election. It shattered records for absentee ballots and was expected to break all-time turnout records too.

Gardner predicted at least 800,000 ballots would be cast, topping the record of 755,850 set in 2016.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if we had tens of thousands more than that, but I’m being conservative,” he said.Anyone with concerns about the coronavirus was allowed to vote by absentee ballot this year, which open the floodgates to people sending in ballots through the mail or filling them out in advance and hand dropping them off.

As of the morning of Nov. 3, the Secretary of State’s office reported more than 235,000 Granite Staters had returned absentee ballots, nearly a quarter of the total number of voters registered in New Hampshire.

In Stratham, moderators were reporting wait times of up to 35 minutes.

“Never seen anything like it before. I’ve lived in Stratham for 33 years, and I’ve never missed a vote, and I’ve never seen the line like this," said poll volunteer Paul Anthony said. "Turnout is just spectacular.”

Polls are required to stay open to allow all potential voters who were waiting in line at closing time to get inside and vote, according to state election laws.

(Editor’s note: Material from New Hampshire Public Radio, Keene Sentinel, seacoastonline.com and Associated Press was used in this report.)




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