The first returns from Dukes County are in: Gosnold, the seventh town in the county and smallest town in Massachusetts, narrowly voted for Barack Obama, casting 49 votes for the incumbent president and 36 votes for his challenger, Mitt Romney.
In the closely-watched U.S. Senate race, it was a nearly even split with Scott Brown beating Elizabeth Warren by a single vote, 44-43.
Turnout was roughly 60 per cent with 145 registered voters casting ballots.
The town voted in favor of all five ballot questions by large margins.
Polls closed at 8; returns were still not in from the six Vineyard towns.
Most Vineyard towns were reporting heavy voter turnout by mid-afternoon Tuesday as a steady stream of voters filed to polling places in the six towns.
In Oak Bluffs more than half the registered voters in town had cast ballots by just after 2 p.m.
As voters filed in and out of the Oak Bluffs polls at the town public library, John Cummings stopped directing people to their prospective booths for a minute to make an observation. “One word,” he said. “Busy.”
At 2:10 p.m., the Oak Bluffs registrars reported a turnout of 1,779 voters — including ballots cast in person and by mail. With a total of 3,445 registered voters in town, the early-afternoon turnout was about 51 per cent with the polls still open for nearly six more hours. The town clerk’s office received over 600 absentee ballots this year — about 200 more than the last presidential election.
“It has been steady since the moment we opened at 7 a.m.,” said registrar Kate Collins. “It’s just constant.”
The story was the same in nearly every Island town.
Across the street from the Chilmark Community Center, a group of sign holders were armed for a long day, with knitted hats and folding chairs. Inside the Community Center, more than 53 per cent of Chilmark voters, 482 people, had placed their ballots into the voting box, which is more than a century old. With the ringing of a bell, vote number 483 was cast.
Town clerk Jennifer Christy said that there were also more then 200 absentee ballots cast in the town.
In Aquinnah, by far the quietest polling place on the Island, about 25 per cent of voters had cast their ballots — 102 out of 398. Town clerk Carolyn Feltz said so far she had received 91 absentee ballots.
“We’ve never had a turnout like this,”said poll worker Camille Rose, predicting an 85 per cent turnout by the end of the day. A few voters sat at tables filling out their ballots, and some left the town offices building affixing “I voted’ stickers to their coats.
“It’s been crazy all day,” West Tisbury town clerk Tara Whiting said as she opened absentee ballots. The parking lot outside the public safety building was full, and she said voting had been steady.
About 49 per cent of West Tisbury voters, 1,165, had cast ballots by about 2 p.m., and Ms. Whiting said there were about 400 absentee ballots to count as well.
Tuesday also marked Ms. Whiting’s first presidential election as town clerk. She said the volume of votes was larger, and the process started a lot sooner than for other elections.
“I count my blessings every day I’m in a small town,” she said.
Outside the American Legion in Tisbury, police officers directed traffic in the crowded parking lot. It was also busy inside, with the town clerk sorting out voter issues and observers seated behind poll workers.
Ballots had been cast at a rate of about 200 an hour, with 1,459, or about 47 per cent of registered voters, casting votes by 3 p.m.
At 3 p.m., about 49 per cent of Edgartown voters had cast their ballots in town hall — almost 500 people voted between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.