Lines at local polling locations were longer than usual Tuesday, as voters turned out in droves to cast their ballots in what would become a victory for President Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren’s bid for U.S. Senate.
Obama won re-election Tuesday night despite a fierce challenge from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, as well as a weak economy and high unemployment.
"This happened because of you. Thank you" he tweeted to supporters as he secured four more years in the White House.
While the reasons for going to the polls varied, many locals said they were motivated by what they had heard the candidates say during televised debates for either the presidential or U.S. Senate races.
Democrat Elizabeth Warren, architect of the consumer watchdog agency set up by the Obama administration after the meltdown on Wall Street, was elected to the Senate on Tuesday, winning a hard-fought victory against Republican Sen. Scott Brown in one of the most expensive Senate contests of the year.
Warren becomes the first woman elected to the Senate from Massachusetts.
In Williamstown, where Town Clerk Mary Kennedy reported a steady stream of voters throughout the day, dozens of Williams College students were participating in a presidential election for the first time.
"It’s a huge deal for me to be able to vote in this presidential election. I missed the last one by a couple of months," Shenai Williams, 21, a senior, who was there with two of her friends, said. "Women’s rights, whether it’s reproductive issues or equal pay, are really important to us."
Tanisha Hoffler, 21, also a senior voting for the first time, said, " ... We didn’t get to vote in the last presidential election, so it’s really important to us to be able to have a say today. Equity is an important issue to me."
Courtney Alexander, 21, said she was excited to be able to vote for President Barack Obama, noting the importance of the election.
"It’s the last time we are able to have a chance to participate in this historic experience of being able to vote for the first black president," she said.
Gigi Sims, a Williams College student, said that although she’s registered as an Independent (unenrolled), she cast her votes for Democrats on the ballot because the candidates mirrored her own beliefs.
"I was motivated to vote today because I think there are a lot of pertinent issues at stake, especially in the realm of women’s rights," she said. "I think those issues should make women come out in droves."
Adriana Brown, who was campaigning for Obama and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren outside the polls at the Williamstown Elementary School, said she finally became U.S. citizen in 2005 because she was displeased with then-President George W. Bush.
"I support President Obama because he’s on the side of the American people," Brown, originally from the Netherlands, said. " ... He made a litany of positive steps, despite having problems with the Republicans in Congress. I’m a supporter of [Warren] because she’s for all the same policies as President Obama."
Elsewhere on Tuesday’s ballot, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, state Sen. Benjamin Downing, Berkshire County Clerk of Courts Deborah S. Capeless and Northern Berkshire Register of Deeds Frances Brooks all won unopposed.
The race for Governor’s Council, Eighth District, was won by Democrat Michael Albano over Republican Michael Franco.
In North Adams, where 63 percent or 5,763 of the city’s 9,111 registered voters turned out to vote, Obama and Warren beat their opponents 3 to 1.
Mike Wilber, who was campaigning for Warren outside of the polls at St. Elizabeth’s Parish Center, said he was standing out on the brisk day because of "what was at stake".
"The problem right now is that we can’t afford to have the Republicans take control of the senate," he said. "People used to be afraid and ashamed to say they were Democrats, but it’s no longer a dirty word."
But not everyone in the city was in favor of giving the president another four years in office. John Moulton, who was standing out for former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, said he was aware that he was in the minority.
"I’m not feeling any love today," he said. "I’m a conservative and feel that Elizabeth Warren is basically a rubber stamp for the president. I’m for Mitt Romney. To sum it up, I disagree with about 70 percent of President Obama’s ideas and I agree with about 70 percent of Mitt Romney’s ideas and policies. ... It’s time for new ideas."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.