The Topsham Fairgrounds, where residents voted Tuesday, was very muddy in areas, including along the entrance road from the Route 196 Coastal Connector, which had to be closed after vehicles got stuck. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

TOPSHAM — Vehicles leaving the Topsham Fairgrounds Tuesday may have looked like they’d been off-roading, but they were actually headed to the polling place.

Shortly after noon, Topsham Town Clerk Linda Dumont confirmed the thawing caused by 60-degree weather created a quagmire in the Fairgrounds dirt roads. The town’s public works department had graded the fair road twice but the second entrance still had to be closed after vehicles were getting struck.

“It’s spring,” she said. “We haven’t had an election in March for a very long time.”

Historically voting in Topsham has been held in June or November in the exhibition hall at the fairgrounds. Normally, the unpaved parking lot and back entrance from the Route 196 Coastal Connector aren’t a problem. Topsham voters on Tuesday, however, were met with squishy mud and puddles. Voters were restricted to the main Elm Street entrance after the Coastal Connector entrance was eventually closed.

On Tuesday, Maine participated in Super Tuesday, the first presidential primary election since Maine dropped the town-meeting style caucus system for presidential primaries used for two decades. There was also as state ballot question, a “people’s veto” effort organized by groups that want to preserve parents’ ability to claim religious or philosophical exemptions to Maine’s law requiring that children receive vaccinations before attending school.

There was a heavy turnout in Topsham. By 12:30 p.m. more than 2,000 people had voted in the town of about 8,700 people.


Voters walk carefully through a muddy parking lot at the Topsham Fairgrounds headed into the exhibition hall to vote Tuesday.

“When we opened the doors there was a line,” Dumont said.

Tuesday’s mud problem wasn’t the first issue at Topsham’s polls. Last November, the fire department had to bring a fire truck to the exhibition hall to provide outdoor lighting after the fair discovered a recent storm damaged its lighting.

Dumont said the town has outgrown the exhibition hall and is looking for an alternative voting location.

“I think the turnout is greater and we also have to have more staff,” she said.

Selectmen chair David Douglass said selectmen haven’t discussed a new voting location but agreed it’s something that needs to be addressed after witnessing the mud conditions early Tuesday afternoon. The town pays the Topsham Fair Association $1,000 to use its exhibition hall for an election. While the nice weather helped get people out, the mud wasn’t something the town had anticipated.

“It’s brutal,” he said. “If we’d voted Saturday this would have been beautiful. It was 18 degrees.”


Douglass said he’s put his car in all-wheel drive to cross the muddy parking lot.

“This is crazy,” he said. “It’s spring. We’re always June and November and this is the first time that we’ve had to do this (presidential primary) because it’s usually been county caucuses.”

Leon Brillant, president of the Topsham Fair Association, declined to comment Tuesday.

Patsy St. Pierre of Topsham gets guidance from election worker Roger Caouette on how to enter her ballot into the counting machine at the Topsham polls Tuesday. Darcie Moore / The Times Record


Portions of the road and parking lot at Topsham Fairgrounds became muddy for voters as temperatures rose to 60 degrees Tuesday.


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