Freedom ballot clerk Joanne Knowlton and moderator and election warden Thressa Abbott both received a bit of a surprise on primary election day.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap stopped in at the Freedom Town Office to present Abbott with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Medallion Award. Knowlton, who was not present at the Town Office, received the award at home.

The NASS Medallion Award was created to honor individuals, groups or organizations with an established record of promoting the goals of NASS, with special emphasis on voter education and participation, according to a press release from Dunlap's office.

Both were nominated for recognition by Freedom Town Clerk Cynthia Abbott for 29 years of service to the town.

"Our elections process is dependent upon the dedication of our clerks and all of the volunteers who give their time to ensure that the voting process goes smoothly at all of the polling places across the state," Dunlap said.

"One of the things that I get to do is, I get to thank people for all their work.

"Often times I'm the guy on TV who talks about the importance of elections and thanking people for getting out and voting, but it's really folks like you, (Knowlton) and Thressa, that have made it possible for people to exercise their democratic rights and self-governance for so many years in this community."

The inscription on the plaque reads, "For 29 years of dedicated service as ballot clerk in the town of Freedom. On behalf of the State of Maine, this community and the National Association of Secretaries of State."

"Thank you so much," Knowlton said after receiving her award. "I never expected this."