(Updated 10:10 p.m.) Of the 11 towns hardest hit by the October Nor‘Easter all but one of them are planning to go forward with Tuesday‘s municipal Election, while 10 of them will be moving or consolidating their polling locations.
The Town of Farmington sought court intervention Monday to postpone the Election, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Monday.
But as of 5 p.m. Monday evening the town had failed to convince a judge to postpone it, so residents should plan to visit the polls. Farmington residents should vote at their regular polling location with the exception of voters who usually go to Westwood Upper Elementary School. That polling place has been moved to Irving A. Robbins at 20 Wolf Pit Road, according to the town’s website.
Other towns like Avon, Bloomfield, Newington, Plymouth, Simsbury, Somers, South Windsor, Stafford, and Vernon are consolidating or moving some of their polling places to other locations in town where there is power. West Hartford’s power was restored to all of its polling places Monday, so none of them will be moved.
Asked about voter turnout, which is usually between 20 and 30 percent in a local election, Merrill said she understands people who are still in the cold and the dark may not be thinking about the election.
However, “You’re seeing right now the power and impact of local election officials and other officials on your life,” Merrill said.
Merrill praised local registrars for their New England ingenuity and neighborliness Monday in pulling together to help their fellow registrars in nearby towns. She said the Somers Registrar of Voters has no power and no way to print its list of voters, but Enfield’s Registrar invited her to their town to print out the voter list.
“There were lots of offers across town to help people,” Merrill said.
But no matter how much help local election officials receive or how well they plan there’s bound to be some confusion.
“There is no perfect solution to this particular Election Day,” Merrill said Monday. “Give the number of solutions all imperfect, it seems to me that going forward is probably the best.”
However, she did say this is a good example of why the state needs to look at its absentee ballot laws. Local officials asked if they could distribute absentee ballots to local shelters, but Merrill said the law dictates that if the person is in the jurisdiction they have to go to their polling place and cast their vote in person.
And if at some point power goes out again, Merrill said the voting tabulators do have a 16-hour battery life. However, she was more concerned about the safety issues such as lighting for people entering and exiting the polling place.
“Theoretically you could still go forward with the Election,” Merrill said. “And by the way you can still count ballots the old fashioned way like we used to.”