Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said Monday that she expects massive numbers of people to vote in tomorrow’s election. The surge in new voter registration has pushed the total number of registered voters in the state to an estimated 2.1 million, the highest figure in state history.
At a press briefing less than 24 hours before the polls open, Bysiewicz said that in order to avoid long lines voters may want to consider voting between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. She said the busiest times at many polling places usually are in the morning after the polls open at 6 a.m. and in the evening between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., when the polls close.
Based on the number of absentee ballots local town clerks already have received, Bysiewicz estimated that voter turnout could reach 90 percent on Tuesday. She said town clerks have received two or three times the amount of absentee ballots they usually receive during a presidential election, and this year more than 300,000 new voters have registered to vote.
New Haven’s Democratic Registrar of Voters Sharon Ferrucci is telling voters to expect a two-hour wait.
Advice for new voters
Bysiewicz had some advice for the state’s 300,827 newly registered voters: bring a photo identification with your current address on it. To find out what other kinds of ID are acceptable for first-time voters, check out the Secretary of the State’s new Web site: www.vote-ez-ct.com.
Bysiewicz estimated that about 60 percent of voters have not used the new voting machines, which is why her office started running television ads in October to let people know about the new voting technology. She said that also is why they set up the www.vote-ez-ct.com site, which has received 25,000 visits.
Bysiewicz said the state also has recruited and trained more poll workers this year. At least 250 of the 5,000 poll workers are college students, recruited to work mostly in Hartford and Bridgeport, where Bysiewicz said there was a shortage of poll workers.
She estimated that prior to this election the average age of a poll worker was 72 years old.
In addition to boosting the number of poll workers, Bysiewicz said she asked local registrars to order 110 percent of the necessary ballots. During Feb. 5 presidential primary a few towns ran out of ballots because they didn’t order enough, she said.
When those towns ran out of ballots poll workers were sent to pick up more from a local printer in New Britain, while others photocopied the ballot knowing those would need to be hand counted after the polls closed.
What if you missed the deadline to register?
For those who may have missed the Oct. 28 deadline to register to vote, there’s still an opportunity to cast a ballot only in the presidential race. Presidential ballots will be available at local town clerks’ offices until 8 p.m. on Election Night.
In 2000, about 33,000 voters used presidential ballots, while in 2004 another 34,000 did the same. The state has ordered 100,000 presidential ballots for voters this year, Bysiewicz said.
If you’re in a polling place and something goes wrong
Once again, Bysiewicz said she would deploy her Election Day Rapid Response team of 10 people to towns and cities across the state to assist local election officials with any problems that may arise.
Also anyone who witnesses election fraud or voting rights abuse is encouraged to call 1-866-733-2463 (1-866-SEEC-INFO) to report suspected violations. Individuals in the Hartford area can call the State Elections Enforcement Commission at 860-256-2940. The SEEC staff will answer questions, advise on complaint procedures, and if necessary, request the assistance of the appropriate law enforcement authorities in the investigation.