Originally published in The Weekly Packet, November 7, 2013
Broken elevator didn’t keep folks from voting in Blue Hill
by Faith DeAmbrose
At 6 p.m. on the eve of the November 5 election, Town Clerk Etta Perkins received some bad news that was bound to make the following day a long one: the elevator was broken and unable to be fixed by Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. when the polls opened.
A relay switch broke on the elevator; despite two trips made by repairmen, said Perkins, it was unable to be fixed in time for the election. With a suggestion from Selectman Jim Schatz, Perkins made a phone call to George Stevens Academy and before long a number of volunteers made their way to the town hall during their free class period to help out. The students served as runners, informing the ballot clerks when someone needed assistance. Perkins said the students also brought homework to occupy their time when they were not assisting in the process.
According to Perkins, when voters who needed the elevator learned it was not operational, the town offered another solution. Voters were taken ballots by a ballot clerk, they cast their ballots and put them into an envelope and the ballot clerk brought them up to the voting machine and waited to make sure the ballot had been cast successfully. The clerk then returned downstairs to inform the voter that their ballot had been accepted.
Students, who helped from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., included Phoebe Wentworth, Brittyn Dauk, Amber Wiesing, Jordon Soper and Cosmos Siebert. From 2:30 to 4 p.m. various ballot clerks took turns; from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Perkins ran up and down the stairs; and from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Joyce Newkirk took a shift. In all they assisted 22 voters in that manner.
“We want to make sure all of our residents are taken care of,” said Perkins, “and they were thankful that we did.”