HALLOWELL — Judy Feinstein has never missed voting in an election.

“I think of it as a privilege, as a right and as a responsibility, to vote,” she said.

Feinstein, a resident of Hallowell, said even after decades of participating, “it’s still exciting” to submit her ballot and see her neighbors and fellow community members at the polls.

Many other residents in Hallowell and Richmond expressed similar thoughts about their decision to come out and vote Tuesday morning, saying that they wouldn’t miss the opportunity. Former mayor of Hallowell, Mark Walker, said he has not missed voting in an election since he was 18, around 50 years ago.

Voters in both Hallowell and Richmond echoed that the candidates and questions on the ballot did not matter as much this year as it did to exercise their “civic duty” to participate in the election, even with the race for the state’s highest office on the ballot.

One Hallowell resident, Emily Edgecomb, said she was especially driven to vote this year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade made her feel “concerned.”


“I was concerned, and it lit a fire under me,” she said.

By noon in Hallowell, 534 residents had voted in person Tuesday, not counting the absentee ballots that were turned in ahead of time. According to City Clerk Diane Polky, 1,600 residents of Hallowell had already turned in absentee ballots. She said the total number of registered voters in the city is around 2,300 and called this year’s turnout “phenomenal.”

Hallowell’s ballot has nonbinding questions asking voters whether they approve of renovating the old fire station and acquiring a space for a new public works department. Additionally, voters were asked to weigh in on the District 2 Kennebec County commissioner race between Charlotte Warren and Joe Pietroski, the race for the county’s register of deeds, the 2nd District U.S. congressional race and state legislative races, including the heated state Senate race between incumbent Sen. Craig Hickman, a Democrat, and Republican state Rep. Jeff Hanley.

Most voters said they were more concerned about the gubernatorial race than local races.

In Richmond, where withdrawal from Regional School Unit 2 is on the ballot, officials said the town’s turnout was considered “steady” in the morning, with 230 people having cast ballots in person by 9:30 a.m. The town has 607 registered voters.

Both Polky in Hallowell and Richmond’s town clerk, Sharon Woodward, said there were “lines” of people waiting outside at 8 a.m. before the polls opened.


First-time voter Hailey Cunha of Richmond said the gubernatorial race is what encouraged her and her mother, Caitlin Cunha, to get to the polls. She said she was “excited” to vote for current Gov. Janet Mills.

Augusta voters cast ballots Tuesday at the Buker Center. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“She was raised to form her own opinion and to be strong-minded,” Caitlin Cunha said of her daughter.

Also voting for Mills in Richmond were Greg LeClair and Mike Greene, who said they were voting to practice their “civic duty.” LeClair, Green and the Cunhas did not have strong opinions on withdrawing from the school district.

Richmond voter Julie Ashland brought her 4-year-old, Alec, and said she “voted every big election.” This election did not feel different to her, but she wanted to vote to “make sure Janet Mills got reelected.” Additionally, she said on the issue of the RSU 2 withdrawal, she is “worried” there might be additional expenses at hand, especially if down the line, Richmond needs a new high school.

“I’m not as up on it as I should be, but I am worried if we become separate, we may have added expenses,” she said.

Over in Fayette, Emily Winter said she voted only for Republican candidates and said as a federal employee, it’s “really important” to vote. She said she has not missed an election.


“I’ve generally been unhappy with the Democratic party, and instead of being unhappy, I’m putting my vote where my mouth is,” she said.

By the time Winter came through the polls, around 2 p.m., 386 people had voted in person and around 200 had submitted absentee ballots. The town has around 940 registered voters, according to Fayette’s election warden, Kirstie Ludwig.

Ludwig has been an election warden for 25 years and said this year’s turnout for the midterm election is the largest she has ever seen. By 8 a.m., when polls in town opened at Fayette Central School, they had a line out the door and had to add two more voting stations.

“This is a very important election, and a lot of people are paying attention to politics,” she said. “The political atmosphere is powerful and people are paying attention. Midterms are not usually this well-attended.”

Ludwig and volunteers at Fayette’s polling location said they expected voting to “pick back up” between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and die down before polls closed across the state at 8 p.m.

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