With just minutes remaining before the polls close in Lexington, many around town are wondering whether the lower-than-expected voter turnout will bode well for the debt exclusion requests that went before the voters in today's special election.
According to Town Clerk Donna Hooper, the expectation as of about 7 p.m., an hour before the polls close, was for about 30 percent voter participation and results to be posted online by 9p.m. tonight.
At the Bridge and Bowman elementary schools, precincts 4 and 2 respectively, voter turnout ticked toward 25 percent during the early evening, a time many expected activity to pick up as people returned from work.
But at Bridge, the handful of folks casting ballots at about 6:30 p.m. was the closest thing they'd seen to a rush at any point during the day. An hour earlier at Bowman, the 607th voter cast ballot and the precinct warden expected the slow and steady pace to continue through to the end.
Wardens at both Bridge and Bowman said they were surprised by the low turnouts, given that these two schools are on the ballot in the form of a question seeking to finance a renovation project through a debt exclusion.
Outside the Precinct 2 polling place, Pam Awrach, a former tutor and Bowman abutter, explained why she voted yes on both questions by saying that the Estabrook and Bowman schools both have a distinctly oily aroma that leads her to believe both need serious upgrades.
"I think it's a health issue, and could be a health issue for the students," said Awrach. "Maintenance is really important and at these schools maybe it hasn't been kept up. Keeping up with infrastructure needs to be a part of the future plans."
According to , when she voted in Precinct 7, at the Estabrook School, the ticker hit 600 before 6:30 p.m. and election officials were optimistic about hitting 700.
Hooper, the Town Clerk, said Estabrook was projecting to about 38 percent, higher than some other precincts around town, and could pull up the total tally. She also thought the Bridge and Bowman precincts would do better than elsewhere.
As of about 7 p.m., Hooper expected to have election results posted to the town website at, if not before, 9 p.m. tonight.
Posted at 1:49 p.m.
As of about noontime, voter turnout was inching toward or over 10 percent at polling locations around Lexington, according to precinct wardens in Lexington Center and the .
Between the issue at hand -- -- and the beautiful weather, pollsters who anticipated a higher turnout were at a loss to explain the slow turnout.
At , Precinct 5 had registered 220 voters -- about 10 percent -- between 7 a.m. and about 12 p.m. this afternoon. Poll workers say they expected a little more activity, but are bracing for a late afternoon rush.
Across the hall, Precinct 1 saw only about 190 voters through the same period of time.
"We expected a bigger turnout with the weather and the issues they're voting on," said Richard Pemberton, the warden at Precinct 1. "School issues usually pull them out, but they haven't come out yet. It's a shame more don't come put, because it's going to affect their taxes."
Down Bedford Street at the DPW Building, election workers echoed Pemberton's feelings as voter turnout inched toward 10 percent just before 1 p.m. The only thing that resembled a rush occurred first-thing this morning, before the sun burst through and began to dry the day.
Standing on Mass Ave outside Cary Hall, Kathleen Lenihan, a member of Yes for Our Schools campaign, brushed a bee (seriously) off a fellow signholder and said she felt things were going so far, so good for supporters of the Estabrook, Bridge and Bowman supporters.
"I hope it's gong well," she said. "We're hopeful we've done a good job educating people about the importance of these projects."
Neither the Yes for Our Schools supporters nor election workers offered much of an opinion about whether a lower-than-expected turnout would bode well for the ballot questions, but all said they expected things would pick up after parents pick up their kids from school and professionals return from out-of-town jobs.
Polls are open until 8 p.m, so don't forget to get out and vote. And check back on Patch for updates as the day progresses or to add your own photos or feedback throughout the day. Town Clerk Donna Hooper expects the results to come in around 9 p.m. and we'll post 'em as soon as we get 'em.