AMESBURY — Fewer Amesbury residents have registered to vote in the upcoming presidential elections this year than had registered by this point in 2008, Amesbury City Hall announced this week.
City Clerk Bonnijo Kitchin said that 11,217 people registered to vote in Amesbury prior to last Wednesday’s deadline, down from 11,965 people who had registered to vote prior to the 2008 election. That decline goes against the trend in surrounding communities, which have seen voter registration sharply rise this year.
In Newburyport, approximately 3,000 more residents registered to vote this year than in 2008. In Salisbury, roughly 1,500 more residents were registered compared to four years ago, and Salisbury’s population is about half of Newburyport’s.
Kitchin said the exact reason for the voter registration decline is unclear. She said Amesbury’s population has only declined by about 170 people since 2008, which wouldn’t be enough to account for the loss of 700 registered voters. If anything, she said, the most likely explanation would be people moving out of Amesbury and then being replaced by new residents moving in who neglected to register.
It’s either that or simply less enthusiasm among prospective voters, but Kitchin did report a major upswing in registrations over the last few weeks of registration, and said she has had to turn away dozens of residents that came in to register after the deadline passed.
Regardless, the voter profile in Amesbury for the upcoming election is now set. Kitchin said there are 3,069 registered Democrats, 1,486 registered Republicans and 6,572 unenrolled voters who will be eligible to fill out a ballot on election day, along with a handful of people registered to parties including the Green Rainbow Party, Libertarian Party and the American Independent Party.
How those voters will cast their ballots two weeks from now is impossible to say.
In 2008, Amesbury voters strongly came out in support of Barack Obama, who received 5,107 out of a total of 8,491 votes to carry Amesbury with 60 percent of the vote. John McCain received 3,219 votes, which was good for 38 percent of the total.
Notably, Amesbury had a turnout rate of 70 percent, which was well above the national turnout rate of 63 percent.
Recent data collected by RealClearPolitics.com indicated that Obama is currently leading Mitt Romney 56 percent to 40 percent in Massachusetts.
As for the U.S. Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, the unenrolled voters will likely be the ones to determine which way Amesbury goes. Brown dominated Amesbury in 2010 with 57 percent of the vote, but recent RCP data indicates that Warren has opened up a five point lead (50 percent to 45 percent) over Brown after the two spent much of the last several months locked in a neck and neck race.
Similarly, the unenrolled voters will likely decide the 6th Congressional District race between Democratic incumbent John Tierney and Republican challenger Richard Tisei as well.
The most recent Boston Globe poll showed Tisei ahead of Tierney 37 percent to 31 percent, with over 30 percent of voters still undecided. Both candidates have a sizeable presence in Amesbury; several prominent Tisei signs can be seen across town, and recently a big Tierney sign popped up on Elm Street.
Voters are reminded that polling will be conducted at the Amesbury High School this election instead of City Hall to better accommodate what is expected to be a huge voter turnout. The election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6 and polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.