Judy Wakefield Staff Writer
The Andover Townsman
---- — A record-setting turnout of 91 percent of the town’s active voters cast ballots this year, but Andover voters didn’t always get their way.
Andover backed Republican incumbent Scott Brown for U.S. Senate and he was defeated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren. The portion of Andover that is in the 6th Congressional District wanted Richard Tisei, but it appeared at Townsman press time that Democratic incumbent John Tierney had captured a slim victory. Andover voters in the redistricted 18th district wanted Barbara L’Italien to reclaim a state representative seat, but will be represented by fellow Andover resident Jim Lyons, a Republican. Voters in the 17th Essex wanted unenrolled Andover resident Kevin Cuff for state representative, and he was defeated by Lawrence City Council President Frank Moran.
Andover did get some of the men and women it wanted. Andover will have the president it wants, for instance. Incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama edged out Republican opponent Mitt Romney nationally, and also captured a victory in Andover, by 234 votes.
Andover also supported winners Niki Tsongas for U.S. Congress, Barry Finegold for state senator and at least two of the three ballot questions. Question 2, known as the Death with Dignity question, was too close to call across Massachusetts at Townsman presstime.
”We are a purple town. You just never know with Andover. The town votes for the person, not the party,” said Sen. Barry Finegold, a town native who was reelected and received just over 10,000 votes from hometown voters. He defeated Republican Paul Adams, who had been elected to the 17th Essex state representative seat for Andover in 2010. It was a busy day at the polls as anxious voters greeted election officials when polls opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and voting stayed steady for the rest of the day.
Traffic backed up around the town’s two voting locations - Andover High School and the Andover Senior Center - early in the morning. But drivers were courteous and understanding, said Town Clerk Larry Murphy.
”The first voter at the high school arrived at 6:20 a.m.,” Murphy said. “Overall, everything went very well at the polls.”
Murphy said presidential elections typically mean high voter turnout and Andover is clearly a good example of that. In the last presidential election in 2008, the town had 88 percent of active voters turn out to vote, Murphy said.
”Our 91 percent is record setting,” he said.
In fact, ballot boxes overflowed. Election officials followed standard procedure to empty the machines, said Murphy. Ballots are put in locked boxes.
Police officers hold the keys to those boxes.
”Absentee ballots are folded and sometimes cause trouble,” he said. “We clean out the machines two or three times so it doesn’t jam.”
The process slowed down voting for a short time, but Murphy said voters were understanding.