Merrimack is a town of roughly 27,000 people in southeastern New Hampshire, and during Tuesday's primary there was just one polling place for all residents: Merrimack High School.
So in the hours before the polls closed at 7 p.m., the roads leading to the voting booths became snarled in traffic so congested that the Merrimack Police Department warned commuters to expect "major delays."
Merrimack resident Jacqui Lantagne, 30, told BuzzFeed News that she, along with dozens of other frustrated voters, had parked their cars in the lots of businesses along the side of Daniel Webster Highway and were plodding through the snowy terrain on foot. There were cars as far as the eye could see, she said.
"It is insane traffic. It’s not like this at all normally in New Hampshire, especially in Merrimack," Lantagne said by phone, shivering and huffing in the 21-degree evening air. Despite purposely leaving her job at a local college for the day early, around 4:30 p.m., she'd given up on driving and parked at a children's playground a half-mile from the school. "The one voting location they have is a little bit landlocked and tough to get to, so it's creating a really big bottleneck."
Lantagne did manage to reach the high school just before 7 p.m. She said she was still torn between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
The gridlock began building up early in the day, leading commuters to post pictures and grumble.
Traffic doesn't normally get bumper-to-bumper in Merrimack.
And traffic apps were warning drivers to stay clear.
Just before 8 p.m., David Scanlan, New Hampshire's deputy secretary of state, told BuzzFeed News that Merrimack had sent police cruisers onto the highway to find the end of the line of cars, and those drivers would be allowed to get to the polls. People in line "will get to vote, no matter how long that takes," he said.
In addition, the polling place had chosen to extend its hours past 7 p.m., but Scanlan did not know exactly how long it would stay open.
This post has been updated to reflect new information about how Merrimack voters waiting in line would be accommodated.
Stephanie Lee is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
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