Hugh McQuaid Photo
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Despite his political endorsement of Republican Tom Foley, petitioning candidate Joe Visconti technically remains a candidate for governor, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Monday during a press conference.

Visconti, a conservative unaffiliated candidate, announced Sunday that he was dropping out of the race and encouraged his supporters to vote for Foley. Even with Visconti’s exit, Foley trailed Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy by 3 points in a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

Merrill, the state’s chief election official, told reporters that questions have been “pouring into” her office since Visconti’s announcement. She said Visconti requested that nothing be formally changed.

“We have spoken to Mr. Visconti and, regardless of his political statements regarding Mr. Foley, he has told my office directly that he is not technically withdrawing from the governors race,” Merrill said. “The ballots are printed and set and the optical scan voting machines have been programmed. Mr. Visconti’s name will stay on all state ballots . . . no one should act to remove his name.”

Despite the questions generated by the candidate’s announcement, Merrill said she was confident that election officials around the state were prepared to open the voting booths at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Merrill said her office was estimating that about 55 percent of the state’s nearly 2 million registered voters would turn out to the polls. That breaks down to about 1.1 million ballots. Unaffiliated voters make up the largest bloc in Connecticut with 818,389 registered. Meanwhile, the state has 712,985 registered Democrats and 407,520 registered Republicans.

Although Merrill said 55 percent turnout is typical for a midterm election year, it is slightly lower than the turnout in 2010 when Malloy defeated Foley by just 6,404 votes. That year, 57.45 percent of voters cast ballots.

Higher than expected turnout led to problems in some areas like Bridgeport, where election officials did not order enough ballots. Merrill said “we learned some lessons during the 2010 election.”

“New legislation passed in the wake of the problems we had in 2010 ensures that ballots will be ordered in sufficient numbers, I believe,” she said. “The new legislation requires some accountability and oversight from our office on the ballot ordering process. Because ballots are ordered at the local level, the requirement is they report to us the number of ballots they ordered.”

Despite the costs associated with printing extra ballots, Merrill said most cities, including Bridgeport, have opted to print ballots for 100 percent of their registered voters.

“I would say we’re more prepared than we ever have been for voters to head to the polls tomorrow,” she said.

Merrill reminded the public that eligible Connecticut residents can still register to vote on Tuesday at a centralized location in each town. Voters will not be able to register at polling places.

“If you missed all the deadlines, maybe you just moved to the state, maybe you just turned 18, you didn’t get around to it, thought you didn’t have to change it, whatever, if you’re a U.S. citizen, age 18 or older, you can still register to vote tomorrow through Election Day registration,” she said.

Merrill encouraged voters to visit her office’s website, www.sots.ct.gov, for more information and to find out whether they are currently registered and where their polling place is located.