In Brookline, Voters Take to the Polls

By Steph Schaffer, Allison DeAngelis, Maddie Rosenberger and Aaron Holden
Boston University News Service 

BROOKLINE- Voters young and old braved the chilly autumn weather in Brookline to cast their votes on Election Day.

Jay Chaudry, a 37-year-old Brookline resident, tried to vote Tuesday morning at the third precinct before work, but the line was too long. He came back at 5 p.m., when there were only 12 people in line, and had no trouble voting.

At the Coolidge Corner Library, poll workers saw an increase in voter turnout compared to the last presidential election. Warden Judith Flewelling said that when the polls opened at 7 a.m., the line of voters went up Pleasant Street and around the corner of the building.

Only five hours after voting opened at the second precinct, Flewelling said that they had seen “more people already than we usually have for a whole day.”

By noon, the library had already served 546 people, more than a quarter of the precinct’s 1,900 total registered voters.

Despite adding more poll workers, lines remained long. Flewelling said that some voters only had to wait around 15 minutes, while others stood in line for more than 45 minutes.

“The people have been extremely pleasant – they have not complained about the long lines. But I really think that most voters should know that it’s going to be crowded. We’re doing the best we can,” said Flewelling.

“This was great,” said Brookline resident Gwen Ossenfort in reference to the wait time at the Coolidge Corner Library. “I’ve seen lines, though. At 8 o’clock this place was packed.”

Flewelling said the increase in voters was due to the contested races in the state, along with the ballot questions.

Massachusetts residents voted on the legalization of medical marijuana and assisted suicide. Ossenfort, unsure of how to vote on these issues, turned to those she trusted for advice.

“I listened to people that I trusted, especially when it came to the ballot questions. That’s an important thing for me, because I don’t always understand them,” she said. “They can be worded in such a way that they are almost double-negatives.”

First-time voter and Catholic University of America student Brianna McGurrin chose who to vote for based on an issue currently affecting her. The 21-year-old said education is most important to her during this election.

“Education is most important because college students are the future,” she said. “College students are the ones who will be mapping change throughout the next presidential term.”

Another college student and first-time voter, Kate Dortenzo, went to the polls at Wheelock College to cast her first-ever presidential vote.

Dortenzo, a 20-year-old Boston University student originally from Ohio, said she was upset because she missed the swing state’s absentee ballot deadline.

Dortenzo said she believes that the economy is the most important issue that needs to be addressed, but choosing who to vote for wasn’t an easy decision.

“I sided with one candidate on social issues, but another candidate on economic issues, so I wasn’t really sure,” she said. “I guess I just weighed the urgency of the two, and I went with the one that I thought was most pressing.”

Miriam Conviser, an 84-year-old Brookline resident who also voted at Wheelock College, echoed Dortenzo’s sentiments about the economy being a critical issue this year.

“I think for pretty much everybody I’m going to have to say the economy,” Conviser said. “That’s very important. It’s going to take a while for whoever gets in, but that’s peak.”

Chaudry, who voted this evening after ditching the long morning line at the Brookline Housing Authority, agreed with Dortenzo and Conviser. When asked what issues were most important to him, he replied, “Economics, definitely. I want to see the economy in a better state.”

For 46-year-old Theresa Sherman of Brookline, who also voted at Precinct 3, debt was the most important issue influencing her vote.

“However many trillions of dollars we are in debt is ridiculous,” she exclaimed. “We have to do something about it fast!”

Sherman, who voted in the 2008 election, agreed with the poll workers’ consensus that the turnout of Brookline voters this year was remarkable.

“I actually thought that from the last election, this one would be anticlimactic, but I’ve actually seen a bigger turnout here than the Obama/McCain election,” she said.

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