For the first time, Amesbury voters will be casting ballots in the cafeteria at Amesbury High School on Highland Avenue instead of at City Hall.
The change was made to better accommodate big crowds of voters like the one expected to come out today.
City Clerk Bonnijo Kitchin said there are 11,217 registered voters and if the turnout is anywhere near the 70 percent recorded during the last presidential election in 2008, poll workers could be looking at a crowd of 8,000 voters or more.
City officials have worked to spread the word about the polling location change over the past several months in order to avoid any election day confusion. Large electronic signs notifying residents have been posted throughout the community, including one in front of City Hall, and mailings have been sent out by the city clerk’s office as well.
Regardless of those efforts, officials expect some people will still show up at City Hall to vote. If that happens, assistant clerks Sharon Dunning and Christine Rees will be there to send voters in the right direction. But there are worries that some of those voters might just say “forget it” and go home rather than make the trip over to the high school.
Those who do turn out at the high school are advised to park in the back near the cafeteria if there are spaces available. There are handicap-accessible entrances in both the front and back of the school as well.
After decades of supervising elections, Town Clerk Wilma McDonald can’t remember one when her office has been busier with people registering to vote, verifying their voter status or casting absentee ballots. Based on what she’s seen so far, her estimation of what today’s turnout will be can be expressed in two words: “Big, big.”