It was hard to tell there was a primary election Tuesday in Waterville judging by the number of people who either did not know about the primary or did not plan to vote.

Only two of several people interviewed at random in Waterville and Winslow Tuesday afternoon said they voted.

Waterville and Winslow were moved into the 1st Congressional District in 2011 redistricting, and candidates Republican Isaac Misiuk of Gorham and incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree had no primary opponents. The 2nd district features races in both parties.

There were no other contested races on the Waterville ballot, but resident Joan Phillips-Sandy, a member of the Waterville Board of Education, said she voted anyway.

“There is no serious reason to come and vote today,” Phillips-Sandy said after leaving the polls at the American Legion post on College Avenue. But she added, “It’s a privilege and honor to be able to vote, so I try never to miss the opportunity.

“Besides, it’s fun to vote for people I really like, even when they are unchallenged.”

Phillips-Sandy said she was told she was the 187th person to vote in Waterville Tuesday.

Warden Roland Hallee, who has worked elections 28 years, predicted about 600 of the city’s 11,000 registered voters would cast ballots before the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Turnout in the 2nd District was on a pace of about 10 to 15 percent Tuesday. In towns, for instance Skowhegan, that had candidates running for municipal seats, turnout was also reportedly much higher Tuesday.

In Waterville, by 1:40 p.m. 284 people had voted, including 67 absentee voters, according to Deputy city Clerk Joyce Tillson.

Gary Murphy, 47, of Waterville, was strolling downtown on Main Street near Berry’s Stationers with his two young children. He said he had been away and had not had a chance to study the candidates.

“I’m not voting because I’m not sure yet,” he said. “I was actually in Florida for the winter.”

At Jorgensen’s Cafe on Main Street, employee Ina Lewin, 21, said she was not aware a primary was being held.

“I’m not voting,” she said. “Honestly, I didn’t know that there was a voting thing today. I don’t watch TV and the only time I see the newspaper is when I’m here.”

In the parking lot of Pleau’s Market on China Road in Winslow Tuesday afternoon, Lisa Buker, 43, of Winslow, loaded groceries from into her vehicle. She said she also was not planning to vote.

“I’m not, just because I don’t have enough time today in my day,” she said.

Tara Soucy, 49, of Winslow, said she was voting because she was not well-versed on the district races.

“All I’ve really heard about is the Lithgow library issue in Augusta,” she said. “I borrow books there and I home-school.”

At the Waterville polls, Rebecca Labbe, 43, of Waterville, said she thought the Lithgow vote — which is to approve bond issues to expand and renovate the Augusta library — is probably the most exciting election issue around.

Meanwhile, Labbe said she is voting Tuesday.

“I am (getting signatures for) petitions for Maine Citizens for Clean Elections and I had to be at the polls,” she said.

But Labbe added that she would have voted even if she were not obligated to be at the polls.

“I vote in every primary election because I’m registered to vote and I believe that we have to use the power to make decisions about government or we can’t complain about what’s happening at the state house,” she said.

Ward Clerk Heather Merrow, who was making sure voter traffic moved smoothly at the polls, said that while there were no contested races, there was a declared write-in candidate, Eric Bennett, running against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on the Republican ticket.

Merrow said she thought most of the voters at the polls Tuesday understood that there were no uncontested races when they entered the legion hall, but came to vote anyway.

“It’s one of the free things we can still do in life,” Merrow said. “I wouldn’t call it an obligation, but it’s a right that they have.”

Election Warden Hallee predicted turnout will be a different story in the general election in November. He said Tuesday’s turnout wasn’t a surprise.

“Except for the write-in, there are no contested races, no local questions,” election warden Hallee said. “All the city candidates — city councilors, school board members — will be nominated at their caucuses in August.”

“It’s running around average right now for an uncontested June primary,” he said. “If it was November, I would worry.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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