GROTON -- By any estimate, election day 2012 will go down in the history books as having one of the heaviest voter turnouts in the nation's history.
No different than anywhere else, Groton's residents set one of its highest records for turnout with 81 percent of the town's 7,825 registered voters showing up at the polls.
Of those 6,325 residents who cast ballots on Nov. 6, the majority, reflecting voting across the United States, broke for Pres. Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney with a difference of 3,201 to 2,806 respectively.
Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein received 49 votes.
All across the country, driven by one of the most hotly contested presidential races ever with a pair of candidates representing radically different directions for the nation, records were broken as voters waited up to two hours in many places for the chance to cast their ballots.
"In the first hour that the polls were open, we had more traffic than we had for the entire state primary election," reported Town Clerk Michael Bouchard. "When we first opened, there was a line waiting outside and it took a good 20 minutes to get everyone through."
With late numbers still being awaited from such states as Florida and Virginia, national news outlets, basing their opinions on voting trends in Ohio, declared victory for Obama before midnight on election day.
In Massachusetts, riding the president's coattails, challenger Elizabeth Warren defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown by an impressive margin of 54 to 46 percent. Bucking the state average, voters in Groton chose Brown over Warren by a vote of 3,356 to 2,714.
Locally, the polls opened at 7 a.m. and for most of the morning, cars were stacked far up Route 119 waiting to turn into the Middle School parking lot where they were greeted by enthusiastic supporters of various candidates waving hands and holding signs.
For many residents emerging from the polls after casting their ballots, coming out to vote on a cold but sunny autumn morning was simply performing their civic duty but for others, it was their chance after four years to make their feelings about candidates and issues known.
"This is an important election," said James Brennan. "There's a lot at stake in terms of where the economy is going and people's individual rights and freedoms. I wanted to cast my vote for people who would do a better job for us."
"I think this is a very, very important election," agreed Bonnie Biocchi. "There's going to be a big turnout."
"I came out because I knew it was going to be a close election," said Robert MacLeod referencing polls that showed presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in a dead heat. "Of the issues, the national debt was the most important to me."
"Obviously this is one of the more important elections we've ever had," said Stephen Christianson. "So I thought it was important to come out and vote. For me, it was the economy first and foremost. After that, jobs creation and education."
"I may not agree 100 percent with any candidate, but the economy isn't going in the right direction," said Jeannine Ripley of her reason for voting. "I'm also concerned about the issue of health care."
In other races than president and United States Senate, Rep. Nikki Tsongas held back Republican challenger Jon Golnik by a vote of 3,571 to 2,352 in Groton, a victory that was even more apparent regionally where Tsongas' victory was sealed by a 65-35 percent margin.
Similarly, incumbent State Rep. Eileen Donoghue defeated Republican challenger James Buba by a vote of 3,390 to 2,114 a margin that also held regionally as Donoghue won by a 74-26 margin.
Uncontested, State Rep. Sheila Harrington bucked the Democratic tide to win re-election with a Groton vote of 4,705.
In other races, Michael Sullivan was elected as the Clerk of Courts for Middlesex County by a vote of 4,290; Maria Curtatone for Register of Deeds for the Middlesex Southern District by a vote of 4,209; and Democrat Peter Koutoujian beat Ernesto Petrone 3,247 to 1,456 for Sheriff of Middlesex County.
Of those who were asked what it was that prompted them to come out and vote last Tuesday, many voters kept to general comments on the issues such as education, the economy, and jobs, but some were not reluctant to reveal which candidates they supported.
"I came out because I'm a Scott Brown fan," declared Maureen Wirth.
Others showed that like voters in towns and cities across the nation, Groton residents were split between staying the course with the president or changing direction with challenger Mitt Romney.
"The economy is the main issue I came out to vote, " said Sharon Cameron. "And to oust President Obama!"
"I came out to show my continued support for President Barack Obama and my desire to elect Elizabeth Warren," said Kim Bonner. "I was also interested in supporting the ballot question making death with dignity a human right."
Among voting for three ballot questions, the issue of death with dignity or euthanasia for terminally ill patients, Groton residents supported the initiative 3,404 to 2,538 in contrast to a statewide vote that narrowly defeated the measure.
A second ballot question, the right to repair bill, garnered 4,762 votes to 637, matching a statewide result that favored the initiative overwhelmingly.
A third question involving legalizing the medical use of marijuana, won in Groton by a vote of 4,037 to 1,951 reflecting a statewide vote approving the measure.