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Calm atmosphere on a big day

It was a big day for Bermuda — but you might not have thought it, judging by the calmness at polling stations across the island.

The Royal Gazette visited all 12 stations from St George's to Somerset yesterday, to check out the atmosphere as voters cast their ballots in a referendum for the first time in 21 years.

But while the issue of same-sex marriage may have divided the country on letters pages, radio talk shows and social media in recent weeks, the only confrontation we witnessed was a mild spat involving two seniors outside the National Sports Centre.

Given that campaigning groups on both sides of the debate had repeatedly stressed they were arguing from a position of love, perhaps the lack of animosity should not be a surprise.

The early part of the day was the busiest, with officials at Bermuda College reporting a steady stream of about 30 people lined up by 8.30am, keen to vote before heading to work. At Dellwood Middle School, voters were knocking on the door before polls opened at 8am.

However, by mid-morning things had slowed considerably and at 10am we saw barely a trickle of people entering Penno's Wharf in St George's.

Although polling staff reported healthy turnouts across the island, business remained nothing more than steady for the rest of the day.

Proceedings were not without confusion, though, and this newspaper took multiple calls from voters asking for help in finding their polling stations, and even figuring out which constituency they belonged to.

An expected surge of voters after the working day finished at 5pm failed to materialise, although a few people left it so late they had to make a dash for the door as the clock ticked towards 8pm.

Too late, as far as a small handful of people at the National Sports Centre were concerned — they arrived just after 8pm and were denied entry.

Having their say: residents head into Penno's Wharf to cast their votes at the same-sex referendum (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published June 24, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 24, 2016 at 12:25 pm)

Calm atmosphere on a big day

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