Voters did not sit out what has been called one of the most contentious, strange, nasty, bizarre, and divisive elections in modern history. They voted in large numbers in cities and towns throughout Connecticut.
Some came out to vote for the first female candidate to be nominated by a major party, and others voted for what they described as “change.” Many voters were reluctant to give reporters their names and preferred to keep their votes secret based on the tenor of the presidential contest. The presidential contest in Connecticut was called for Hillary Clinton around 9:25 p.m.
But decorum, rather than chaos, seemed to reign Tuesday as few problems were reported. There were no reports of attempts by outside groups to suppress the votes of certain voting blocs in Connecticut, though there were concerns about such activities voiced in other states.
“We take elections as obligation, but also as a revered ritual,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday after voting for Clinton at his polling place in Hartford.
Despite their differences, Malloy shook hands with Donald Trump supporters leaving the Hartford Seminary on Tuesday morning.
Kellie Burke was wearing a “Make America Great” hat and her son was wearing a Trump hat. Neither were told to remove them even though the moderator could have asked them to do so since campaign materials are not allowed in the polling place.
Burke said she had no idea that the hat might was prohibited. She said she was proud to finally be able to wear it. Burke said the Trump sign in her front yard was vandalized and finally stolen and her son has been called awful names by his peers.
She said she supports Trump because “small business needs this chance.” She said Trump will help change the burdens small business owners, like herself, face. Burke owns Kellie Burke Interiors, a West Hartford-based design firm.
Rep. Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said he’s not concerned about Burke’s vote. He said he’s confident Clinton will receive more votes in the west end of Hartford.
Turnout appeared brisk throughout the day at various locations around the state.
In Trumbull, more than 50 percent of registered voters had already cast their ballot by 3 p.m.
Ilene Goby, a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, called Clinton “experienced and responsible, she’s a woman … she won’t deport the people Trump says he will … Trump is totally irresponsible.”
Shirley Tyszka said she voted for Trump. “We need a change. We need firmness.” She said she supports a strong military and said, “What Hillary did to the military was god awful.”
Shirley and Tony Passaro also said they voted for Trump.
“He didn’t put it over like a politician … he’s more of a people person than a politician,” Shirley Passaro said, adding that she wants to see jobs come back, and she likes his position on national security and a “good military.” Tony Passaro called Hillary “bad news.”
Lorraine Fitelson said she voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary and for Clinton today.
“I’m against Trump, of course,” Fitelson said. She called herself an Obama fan and said she always liked Clinton.
“She couldn’t have beaten anyone but Trump,” Fitelson said, adding that people have been after her since she was the first lady in Arkansas. They hate her. I don’t know why.”
At JFK Elementary School in Windsor, 2,747 out of 4,073 registered voters (about 67 percent) in the district had cast ballots by 7 p.m.
Voters were arriving at a steady pace, though the line was not out the door.
Windsor resident Melissa Strother said she voted for Clinton. “I think she represented the people more than Donald Trump did. His technique of campaigning — what he was offering wasn’t in line where I wanted to be.”
Asked what she’s expecting after the election, Strother said, “Honestly, either one, I don’t think they’re going to get very far. I think they’re both going to face gridlock so it’s just a matter of getting someone in office to ride out the next four years.”
Windsor resident Mark Taylor said he voted for Trump for “revolution.”
Taylor said he does business in Connecticut and New York and owns an oil company and has rental properties. He said there’s too much red tape for businesses.
“It’s just so hard in today’s world to even have a business to provide jobs for people,” Taylor said. “I just found another tax in New York that I had to fill out and do paperwork for — every day it’s something. I’m in the oil industry so the EPA doesn’t do me any favors. Very reactive instead of proactive. You know, whatever — we all want this utopian society and it’s time for a change. Let’s turn it upside down. Trump unfortunately isn’t going to be very successful in government but I think he’s a change.”
Windsor’s Andrew Rosenberg was also a Trump supporter.
“I voted for Donald Trump. I voted straight Republican,” Rosenberg said. “I am of the opinion, fool me once, fool me twice, OK, we’re going to get fooled a third time? I don’t want that to happen. I believe Trump’s economic policies — the security things that he’s outlined are very good for this country, very good for the world. When America is strong, the world’s a safer place.
Windsor resident Michael Zizzamia said he voted for Clinton.
“Certainly not because I’m in not love with her but she’s the less of the two evils, unfortunately, and it’s kind of sad that those are our two choices,” Zizzamia said. “Eight years ago was my favorite vote when I got to vote for Barack Obama. I was very proud to have a chance to do that. This is, you know — I think about my kids and I have six grandchildren, and, you know, what kind of world would it be with somebody like Donald Trump? I mean, it’s scary.”
Erin Fredette said she voted for Clinton because she felt strongly that Clinton was a better choice on women’s rights. She said she made her choice a long time ago and wishes Connecticut had early voting.
“I’m not sure if I have real expectations for her presidency but I’m just hoping that things will calm down, people will be nicer once this election is over,” Fredette said.
Debora Jones said the final presidential debate tipped her decision in favor of Clinton, based on policies and Trump’s demeanor.
Elaine Saunders said she was still checking policies up until recently but she voted for Clinton based on her support for women’s rights and how she cares about equal treatment for everyone.
James and Laura Schiavone said they voted Republican “down the line” because the party lines up with their values. They said immigration was an important issue along with the future of the country with respect to economics and national debt.
In rural Canton, Carrie Sinish shared concerns about a possible Trump victory.
“I am afraid of a Trump presidency,” Sinish said. “I think it’s just going — he’s a fascist. I’ve been a nervous wreck. Let’s hope the electorate is smarter.”
Lucas Roberto, 16, couldn’t cast a ballot Tuesday but was out holding a Make America Great Again sign in support of Trump. Roberto said he was especially supportive of Trump’s immigration policy and stance on the second amendment.
“I think Hillary Clinton is a corrupt liar and Donald Trump is different,” Roberto said. “He’s going to bring change to the country and that’s what we need.”
Canton resident Penny Phillips, 56, said voting for a woman was moving for her.
“I’m of that age bracket that it means something to me. It was really moving. I can’t wait for us to have a woman president,” Phillips, said. “I’m of the mind that Hillary’s just been pounded her whole career, her whole life. I don’t [think] she’s done anything intentionally corrupt. There may have been things along the way but I think the foundation’s amazing and I think there wasn’t any pay for play. I think it’s people looking to impact her and her causes and defeat her. I’m a big fan and have been for years.”
In Norwalk, Marisol Oquendo said she hadn’t followed the debates, but suggested she voted for Trump because, “I feel like he will have a better chance of getting America back to where it was and I think Hillary is not completely honest. You can’t trust someone to be president when they’re not honest.”
Roy Fuchs, John Fitts of the CantonCompass.com, and Nancy Chapman of NancyOnNorwalk.com contributed to this story.