Feb 10, 2016 2:36 PM

Merrimack officials admit NH primary traffic nightmare a 'major screw up on our part'


MERRIMACK - Traffic was a nightmare Tuesday night when 19,000 registered voters sat for miles trying to get to Merrimack's only polling place.

"An hour and a half," is what Daniel Pelletier and Jane Dwier, both residents of Merrimack, responded with when asked how long they sat for.

“We waited in line patiently and then not so patiently,” Dwier said.

The town's voter traffic nightmare on Tuesday became the town officials' headache on Wednesday.

“This was a major, major screw up on our part," said Lynn Christensen, Merrimack town moderator. "It’s the town of Merrimack’s fault and it’s not any one person. We’ll work and we’ll make it better.”

Christensen has been the town moderator for years and said the problem on N.H. Primary night was unique. They had to keep the polls open for everyone who was in the line before 7 p.m.

“I’m concerned people didn’t vote because of the situation,”Dwier said.

Christensen explained that picking the polling places in Merrimack is a group decision between herself, the chief of police and several others.

“Ultimately it’s the town’s call," said Christensen. "It’s not any one person."

NH1 News found a town councilmen to ask him what the plan is for going forward.

When asked whether the traffic issue would be fixed before the general election, town councilor William Boyd responded with a "Yes."

"Yes, hopefully we can come up with some solutions and alternatives so that come September and November people aren’t as frustrated as they were yesterday,” Boyd said.

Boyd also told NH1 News that there have already been suggestions brought to his attention and that he can't share them just yet.

“We’re hoping they get smart and go back to three polling places,” said Dwier, referring to the polling set- up prior to 2012.

“For me personally, I do feel bad that people were frustrated and had to turn around,” said Boyd.

A town council meeting is set for Thursday in which Boyd says is open for anyone to come and make comments regarding their traffic frustrations.

Jenna Abate is a multimedia journalist for NH1 News. You can email her at jabate@nh1.com and follow her on Twitter, @Jenna_AbateNH1.


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