High Turnout as GOP Sweeps Salem Election
Turnout for Tuesday's election was over 75 percent.
The Republican Party will continue its reign over Salem after the results of Tuesday's election.
All nine of the town's GOP candidates on the ballot for the N.H. House of Representatives won, beating all nine of the Democrats.
Incumbent Republican N.H. Sen. Chuck Morse also won re-election to his District 22 seat in convincing fashion.
Salem went with the Republican candidates for president, governor on Congress, although all three (Mitt Romney, Ovide Lamontagne and Charles Bass, respectively) all lost their elections.
A total of 14,597 votes were cast in Salem Tuesday, representing a 75 percent turnout. Newly registered voters in Salem Tuesday totaled 1,430.
Incumbent Republican House members Ron Belanger (6,519 votes), Gary Azarian (6,504) and John Sytek (6,399) topped the ticket in the balloting Tuesday.
Joe Sweeney, a 2012 Salem High School graduate, was fourth with 6,287 votes. He was followed by incumbents Robert Elliott with 5,996 and Marilinda Garcia with 5,877 and former representative Anne Priestly with 5,808.
Newcomers Bianca Garcia and Patrick Bick rounded out the elected Republicans with 5,760 and 4,931, respectively.
Michael Murray was the top vote-getting Democrat with 4,810 votes. Next was Susan Desmet with 4,753 votes, followed by John Murphy (4,134), Rebecca Fee (4,082), Ralph Stein (4,051), Camron Iannalfo (3,907), Dee Lewis (3,709), Lawson Brouse (3,659) and Harley Featherston (3,449).
Morse defeated his Democratic challenger Victoria Czaia in Salem by a 8,254 to 4,650 margin. With added results from Atkinson, Plaistow and Pelham, Morse beat Czaia 16,364 to 9,781.
For the second time in a year, a Salem election was marked with controversy about long lines at the polls throughout the day, with many expressing frustration.
Unlike the March town election, when the town ran out of ballots, the issue Tuesday was due to the reduction of polling places.
September's primary election was the first with four polling places instead of six. A plan proposed by Town Moderator Chris Goodnow and approved by selectmen in 2011 eliminated Barron School and Town Hall as polling places and moved those voters to the Ingram Senior Center while Soule School voters were moved to Fisk School.
While voting at the unaffected North Salem and Lancaster Schools went smoothly much of the day, voters complained of long lines from the time polls opened until they closed at 7 p.m. at Fisk and the Senior Center.
Readers on Salem Patch's Facebook page said they experienced waits as long as two hours at those locations.
Salem Police blocked off Veterans Memorial Parkway near the Senior Center right as polls closed, but all who were in line at the time the polls closed were allowed to vote.
While Fisk voters were able to wait inside the school to vote, Senior Center voters waited outside in very cold temperatures, especially after the sun went down.
Selectman Everett McBride said the town will need to look at alternatives before the next big election.
He said that over 7,100 voters were registered to vote at the Senior Center while only 2,800 were registered to vote at Lancaster.
"Certainly Lancaster can take another 2,000 voters," McBride said, suggesting some redistricting may need to happen.
The only election in Salem next year will be the March town election, so officials have plenty of time to work on a new plan.
Election results were announced just before 1 a.m. Wednesday morning by Goodnow.
Goodnow said that "substantive logistical issues" that came out of this election will need to be addressed.
"This is not easy, I will tell you that," Goodnow said. "We spent hundreds of hours preparing for this election...I appreciate the frustration that was expressed today."
Goodnow called the number of new registrations in Salem today "staggering."