NEWBURYPORT — Greater Newburyport voters lived up to predictions, turning out in record numbers yesterday to decide heavily fought races from the Oval Office to Beacon Hill.
Locally, turnout was as high as 87 percent in Rowley and 80 percent in Newburyport, with activity heaviest in the early morning as people lined up even before the polls had opened, causing traffic backups and logjams in parking lots.
In Salisbury, the line to vote when the polls opened stretched several yards to the Department of Public Works garage on Lafayette Road. Traffic picked up again in the early evening as commuters rushed to the polls after work.
“It was fabulous,” Town Clerk Wilma McDonald said yesterday afternoon.
There were no problems keeping up with the steady flow of people however, thanks to a steady flow of volunteers and plenty of ballots. “We were well stocked,” McDonald said.
Exit polling in Newburyport and Salisbury showed an overwhelming majority supporting Democratic candidates.
“How could I vote for Romney? He’s an absolute disgrace,” former Amesbury High School principal and Salisbury resident Les Murray said.
Murray and others said public education was a major reason why they voted the way they did. One voter said she was worried what would happen to the system should Republicans win both the White House and the Massachusetts Statehouse.
Susan Hern of Newburyport said her ballot went to Obama and other Democrats.
“(Obama) holds the same views as I do, and in terms of international relations, he has improved our country’s standing in Europe,” said Hern, who added that she worked in John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. I am really hoping Obama wins.”
Peter Flynn of Newburyport put his support behind challenger Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate and incumbent John Tierney for the U.S. House of Representatives.