By Marjorie Nesin Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — As the counting rang down on tight election races on both the national and state levels, Cape Ann’s towns tallied vote totals revealing voter turnouts far above the national rate.
Of registered voters in Essex, 93 percent cast ballots in the town’s singular precinct, according to Town Clerk Christina Wright. The national turnout was about 60 percent. And while long lines were seen across the country, Essex didn’t escape that scenario, either. Wright estimated that 30 or 40 residents had lined up to vote at the fire station doors before the polling place even opened.
“Overall, throughout the country there was a lot of buzz about this election, and people (in Essex) wanted their voices to be heard,” Wright said. “Local issues and the questions excited people too. They wanted to have their input on that.”
Essex followed the nation’s lead in voting for President Barack Obama’s re-election, with 1,154 of the 2,168 voters choosing the Obama ticket and 962 voting for Romney. Another 28 voters picked Libertarian Gary Johnson, 14 pulled for the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and 9 left the presidential section blank or wrote in a name.
In state races, Essex voted opposite of the rest of the state, favoring Republican candidates.
Despite losing the state election to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, Republican incumbent Scott Brown won Essex’s Senate race vote. Likewise, Republican Richard Tisei won Essex’s approval in the town’s vote, but lost to incumbent Congressman John Tierney.
In the Senate race, 1,200 Essex voters cast ballots favoring Brown, while 952 filled in the Warren bubble on the ballot. Tisei grabbed only five more Essex votes than Tierney, capturing 1,004 votes, while Libertarian Daniel Fishman garnered 93 Essex votes, and 70 voters declined to vote for a representative candidate.
Manchester’s voters — 89 percent of whom cast votes — matched Essex’s candidate choices, with Manchester residents also favoring Obama, Brown and Tisei.
Obama took 1,922 Manchester votes, Romney pulled in 1,556 votes, Johnson received 30, and Stein managed 18 Manchester votes.
In the Senate race, 1,844 Manchesterites voted for Brown and 1,670 for Warren. And Tisei narrowly captured the town’s representative vote with 1,707 votes over Tierney’s 1,614 in the town.
Rockport voters —who responded with an 82.4 percent turnout —also chose Obama, but countered the other towns in their Senate and congressional votes, matching the state in choosing Warren for Senate and Tierney for Congress.
Obama bagged 2,982 votes from Rockport’s 4,773 voters. Warren took 2,597 of the town’s Senate votes. And Tierney’s majority of 2,615 Rockport votes made him Rockport’s choice for Congress.
Like Essex, Rockport was one of the last towns in Massachusetts 6th District to report its vote totals when officials clocked in their final precinct about 12:23 a.m. Wednesday.
Town Clerk Patricia Brown said the hand count, while time consuming, is highly accurate. Plus, the town has always counted that way, she said.
”In the future, we might look to something else but presently we’ve always done paper ballots and there would be an added expense that would need to be planned for should we decide to go with machine,” Brown said.
All towns voted in favor of ballot questions that would require vehicle manufacturers to provide diagnostic and repair information to vehicle owners and mechanics, allow the prescription of life-ending medication for terminally ill patients, and legalize medical marijuana. The state narrowly rejected the ballot that would have allowed doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients.
The towns also each voted in favor of a non-binding question that urges Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution affirming that corporations do not have the same rights as people, allowing the government to limit corporations’ campaign finance spending and allow states to set their own limits.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.