The pandemic didn’t put a damper on the turnout for Andover’s Sept. 1 elections.
According to Town Clerk Austin Simko, approximately 9,600 residents, or 37%, voted in the Primary.
That’s the highest turnout for a Primary the town has seen in eight years, he said. It is partially attributed to mail-in voting encouraged by health officials to avoid catching the coronavirus at the polls.
“That was a high turnout because if you look at the September primaries in 2012, we had 3,200 voters. And in the September primary in 2016 we had 1,500 voters,” Simko said.
“In 2018 it was a big increase, it was 7,000 voters. (But) to have 9,600 voters, I don’t know if that’s a record. It’s certainly within the last eight years by far more than we have had,” he added.
According to Simko, about 64% of voters — 6,185 — voted early by mail. Also, he said, 10% — 850 people — voted early in person.
Simko said that while some towns may have confused voters who requested ballots by mail and never received them, in Andover the town has a system which allows those who never received their ballots to vote in person.
“We have a system so that we know whether your vote has already been counted based on what you mailed in, so if someone were to show up to vote but had already submitted a mail-in ballot, we know whether that ballot had been counted,” Simko said.
“And if it hadn’t been counted, we let you vote in person if that’s what you wanted to do so it’s just all about tracking the ballots as they are tabulated,” he continued.
Simko said accommodating the added mail-in ballots was no easy feat.
Every mail-in ballot in his office involved four transactions, so the 6,185 mail-in ballots added 24,740 transactions for his office, which has been open every weekend since the end of July to handle the influx.
The four transactions are as follows: mailing out the applications; processing the applications; mailing the ballot; and counting the ballots that are mailed.
“We had multiple people working nights every single weekend since the end of July to get out the ballots that people requested by mail,” Simko said.