N.H. Polls Marked by Heavy Turnout, Independents

Third-graders in Antrim, N.H., made the signs at the local polling site. i i

Third-graders in Antrim, N.H., made the signs at the local polling site. Melissa Block, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Melissa Block, NPR
Third-graders in Antrim, N.H., made the signs at the local polling site.

Third-graders in Antrim, N.H., made the signs at the local polling site.

Melissa Block, NPR
Diane Chauncey i i

Diane Chauncey, chairwoman of the Supervisors of the Checklist in Antrim, provides homemade peanut butter cookies for voters. Melissa Block, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Melissa Block, NPR
Diane Chauncey

Diane Chauncey, chairwoman of the Supervisors of the Checklist in Antrim, provides homemade peanut butter cookies for voters.

Melissa Block, NPR
Supporters tout their candidates outside the polling site at Milford Middle School. i i

Supporters tout their candidates outside the polling site at Milford Middle School in Milford, N.H. Melissa Block, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Melissa Block, NPR
Supporters tout their candidates outside the polling site at Milford Middle School.

Supporters tout their candidates outside the polling site at Milford Middle School in Milford, N.H.

Melissa Block, NPR

At polling places in Milford, Antrim, and Hillsborough, N.H., local officials said Tuesday that they're seeing very heavy turnout. Some are afraid they'll run out of ballots before the day is through.

Melissa Block visited these towns in south-central New Hampshire and talks to Michele Norris about what voters told her about who they voted for and why.

Stephen Shaheen, a Democrat in Milford, voted for Hillary Clinton. He says he thinks the country needs a woman as president.

"I just feel the country ... needs a Mother Earth, a mother to take care of the country. ... [Clinton] struck me as the person with more experience, with a lot of intelligence, a lot of education, and it's a gut feeling inside — can't really put words to that," Shaheen said.

Republican Carmen Gilbert, also in Milford, said she wants a businessperson to run the country, so she voted for Mitt Romney.

He is someone who could "take charge, turn things around. ... [H]e has taken small businesses that were in shambles and turned them around and done good things," she said, also citing the Olympics as another example.

The much smaller town of Antrim is up the road from Milford. While Milford has 10,000 registered voters, Antrim has about 1,800.

The signs at the polling place in Antrim were painted by local third-graders. After you vote, you can help yourself to a homemade peanut butter cookie made by a local elections official, Diane Chauncey.

Antrim voter Edward LeMay voted for John McCain, but almost voted for Rudy Giuliani. He didn't make up his mind until, literally, the last minute.

"I've been tossing it around for quite a while. It's a hard decision to pick the right man to do the right job. When I got in the booth, I decided it would be McCain," LeMay said.

But most voters had made up their minds well before Tuesday. New Hampshire has an open primary: Voters can go into a polling place independent, or undeclared, and switch to a party to vote, then re-register as an independent when they leave.

Much of the focus has been on how these independent voters, who are strong in New Hampshire, will vote. In Hillsborough, for example, 52 percent of registered voters are independents.

Gil Shattuck, a state representative in the New Hampshire House, said he has met most of the candidates. He was proudly wearing a Barack Obama button.

Obama "represents the hope of real change in Washington that many of us have not felt since [John F.] Kennedy," Shattuck said, breaking into tears.

He continued that he believes the country is in a mess, that Hillary Clinton is too much the "same old, same old," and that it's time to move on with Obama.

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