In a town that historically has a high percentage of voters, Vote Early Day draws a crowd Saturday at the Sidney Town Office. The national Vote Early Day was launched to ensure Americans know about options to vote early. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

SIDNEY — Saturday was the first Vote Early Day, and the rural town of Sidney was all in.

A rural Kennebec County town that typically has a higher voter turnout, percentage-wise, than many other towns in the state, Sidney residents apparently take their right to vote seriously.

With a population of about 4,500, Sidney has 3,500 registered voters.

“We’ve had 157 people register to vote since July,” Sidney Town Clerk Joyce Ryan said Saturday at the town office, where voting hours were held from 9 a.m. to noon. “It grows daily. As of yesterday, 1,353 had voted — we received 1,353 ballots.”

By 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 24 residents had voted in person, said Ryan, who has been town clerk only a month and is a former deputy city clerk in Waterville.

Vote Early Day, set for Oct. 24, was launched nationally by nonprofits, businesses, election administrators, and others working to ensure Americans know about options to vote early. Ryan noted that early voting is part of the absentee voting process.

Nancy Fleury, 76, of stands outside the Sidney Town Office after casting her ballot Saturday as part of the national Vote Early Day. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

In Sidney, a town of rolling fields, farms and new housing developments, residents embraced the idea of voting early and in person on Saturday.

“When we opened, it was crazy,” Ryan said. “We had people lined up. They were waiting for us at quarter to 9.”

Nancy Fleury, 76, a Republican, said it was the first time she had ever voted early and she was a little hesitant at first, but the process was seamless.

All she had to do was go into the town office, walk down a short hallway, enter the voting area, collect her ballot, fill it out, place it in an envelope, seal and sign it and pass it to a clerk.

“I voted for Trump,” Fleury said afterward, standing in the parking lot. “He’s not a politician. I have very little faith in politicians. He’s a go-getter. If he says he’s going to do something, he does it.”

Sidney is largely Republican. As of Friday, the town had 1,377 registered Republicans, 911 Democrats, 1,073 unenrolled voters and 138 Green Party registrants, according to Ryan.

Sidney Town Clerk Joyce Ryan stands Saturday next to a new ballot drop box the town received Friday. Sidney took part in Vote Early Day, a national effort to ensure Americans know about options to vote early. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Ryan said residents may also vote by absentee ballot at the town office during regular office hours, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, as well as noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“I’ve had a full election staff for three weeks out back,” she said.

That staff includes four-plus people, if needed, according to Ryan.

“I’ve had four people working every, single day since the day they were available,” she said.

Sidney on Friday got its new drop-off ballot box which is just outside the main entrance to the town office. The state paid for 80% of the cost of the box and on her fifth day in office, Ryan got a federal grant of $5,000 to pay for the remainder.

“Within five minutes, we had a gentleman waiting to put his ballot in the box and we had 16 ballots in there this morning,” she said, adding that people may drop their ballots in the box until 8 p.m. on Election Day,  Nov. 3.

Jodie Tracy, 55, and her husband, James Tracy, 53, participated in the first Vote Early Day on Saturday and cast their ballots at Sidney Town Office. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Also voting Saturday morning were James Tracy and his wife, Jodie, who both said the early voting by absentee ballot process was easy.

“My wife hasn’t voted in Sidney at all,” James Tracy, 53, said. “I thought I’d bring her in and get her registered.”

A Republican, James Tracy said he has lived in Sidney for 20 years. He voted for Trump because of “his economic plans, cutting back regulations and exposing the amount of crap in D.C.” He said he thinks Trump will win reelection.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” he said. “I don’t believe polls at all. There are so many different ways they can rig them.”

Jodie Tracy said the Sidney election workers were very helpful and told her exactly what she needed to do to vote. She registered as a Republican, she said, and voted for Trump.

“I like what he’s done the last four years so I’m hoping for another four,” she said.

Ryan said that last year in November, the town had 3,261 registered voters, but on Saturday, there were 3,500.


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