SHIRLEY — Traffic at the polls on Election Day was brisk enough by noon to spark speculation about the turnout.
From her post at the crank-in ballot box, Meredith Marcincewicz predicted turnout would be at least 50 percent, with 100 votes cast during one 35-minute period Tuesday morning.
Just outside the polls in the Town Offices lobby, another veteran election worker, John Oelfke, was less optimistic, predicting a “slightly lower” percentage based on a count of 644 over the morning, with another 300 votes added since. “That’s still good,” he said.
Asked if he thought the greatest draw was the governor’s race or the ballot questions, Oelfke said both, but the casino question was “big,” he said. Question 3 sought to prohibit casino gambling in the state, overturning an existing law that allows it.
Another hot button issue was the gas tax question, particularly for “conservatives,” said Oelfke, who is a member of the town’s Democratic Committee.
People approached as they left the building almost all said they came to vote because it was their right and their duty to do so.
The outcome of the governor’s race and the ballot questions would be “interesting,” said a woman who didn’t want her name or picture to appear in the story. “But I always vote.”
Michele and Chantel Woodson came together but only one of them voted. Chantel has moved to Lunenburg and plans to vote there, she said. Her mom, Michele, said she’s lived in town for four years and voted today because “I want to have my say.”
James Rowe Jr. a resident “off and on for 25 years,” said he’d “exercised my right to vote.” But did anything pique his interest this time? “This state needs serious change,” he said. Although not impressed with the candidates, the four ballot questions were important, he said.
Max Jimenez moved to Shirley from Florida several months ago but he’s no newcomer to the state, he said, having previously lived in Waltham for 53 years. “I always vote,” he said. “It’s my duty and my right.” Unlike others who declined to share their choices, Jimenez readily revealed his pick for governor: Martha Coakley. “She gives to the community what is needed,” he said. “To me, she is the perfect candidate.”
Erin and Jonathan Daforge came to vote with their two kids, 3-year-old Jonah and a baby daughter, just 4 weeks old and sleeping peacefully in a carrier. They’ve lived in town about a year as a family but are no strangers. “I grew up in Shirley,” said Erin, and her husband hails from Ayer.
They said voting was a “civic duty” and key to being “part of the town” and the state. Asked if the ballot questions or the candidates were more important to them in this election, Jonathan said the governor’s race mattered most to him. He didn’t say which candidate he voted for.
Town Clerk Amy McDougall announced the following election results late Tuesday night after ballots were hand counted.
This could be the last election for the town’s old-fashioned, hand-cranked ballot boxes and long nights spent counting ballots if a bid to buy an automated voting machine is approved at Special Town Meeting next week.
No record was set by the 2,277 total turnout, representing 55.6 percent of the town’s 4,093 registered voters. The number was “as expected for a nonpresidential year,” McDougall said.
Senator: incumbent Edward Markey garnered 1,114 votes in Shirley, topping challenger Brian Henry, who received 1,083 votes.
Governor: Charles Baker trumped Martha Coakley, with 1,333 votes versus 783. The other candidates, Falchuk, Lively and McCormick garnered 81 votes, 31 votes and 24 votes, respectively.
Attorney General: John Miller received 1,095 votes, a handful more than Maura Healey with 1,094.
Secretary of State: Incumbent William Francis Galvin received 1,263 votes. David D’Arcangelo received 812 votes and David Faotor received 123 votes.
“I think people were very interested in the questions, but it’s hard to say if that’s what brought them out to vote,” McDougall said.
This is how Shirley voters weighed in on the issues:
Question 1: Eliminate gas tax indexing – Yes: 1,307; No: 931; Blank: 38
Question 2: Beverage container deposit – Yes: 393; No: 1,858; Blank: 26
Question 3: Expand prohibition on gaming – Yes: 690; No: 1,552; Blank 35
Question 4: Employee earned sick time – Yes: 1,143; No: 983; Blank: 151
Statewide, the vote was no to gas tax indexing, no to expanding container deposits, no to prohibiting casinos and yes to sick time.