HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut voters are heading to the polls until 8 p.m. today to vote for their mayors, first selectmen, and all the members of their local boards and commissions.
There are 2.1 million registered voters in Connecticut who are eligible to cast their ballots, including 861,766 who registered unaffiliated, 771,412 Democrats, and 453,625 Republicans.
Turnout for these municipal elections is typically around 30 percent, but some Connecticut politicos believe it will be higher. That said, reasons differ for what they believe will be an increased interest this year.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who cast his absentee ballot Monday in Greenwich, said that he’s seen a “heightened energy” all across the state.
“There’s incredible turnout at the rallies and the headquarters,” Blumenthal said. “We’ll see if that translates to increased participation.”
He said among the activists there is a “sense of urgency” and “demand for involvement.” He said he would be surprised if that diminishes anytime soon.
Many on the Democratic side attribute the increased interest in the political process to Republican Donald Trump’s election to the White House more than a year ago.
Leigh Appleby, a spokesman for the Connecticut Democratic Party, said they’ve made 300,000 phone calls this year, which is more phone calls than they made in 2015.
He said a lot of the volunteers are new people he’s never seen before.
“With what’s going on in Washington with Trump they see they can make a real difference in their own communities,” Appleby said Monday.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said he hopes the Democrats continue to make this about Trump. He said that’s because Trump lost Connecticut and Republicans still picked up seats in the General Assembly last year.
“They don’t have anything to run on,” Romano said. “So they’re running against the president.”
In the same breath, Romano said all elections are local and this year there are a number of local issues that have caught voters’ attention.
In Farmington, there’s a school construction project that has divided the town. In Bloomfield, the siting of a water bottling plant inspired a group of political newcomers to challenge the Democratic establishment there.
In Bristol, the town council has twice censured Republican Mayor Ken Cockayne, who is running for a third term, over sexual harassment complaints. He’s being challenged by Ellen Zoppo-Sassu.
In Greenwich, there are 274 candidates on the ballot for the 230-seat Representative Town Meeting and 10 more write-in candidates. That means there will be competitive races in all but three of the districts.
Dita Bhargava, the former Democratic Party vice chairwoman who is exploring a run for governor, organized a rally Monday in response to disparaging comments made by a blogger in town about some of the first-time female candidates.
“The women running for the RTM don’t fit in one ideological box,” said Jennie Baird, an organizer of March On Greenwich, one of the groups that recruited candidates for the local election. “They’re Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, who feel a responsibility to take part in our government. It’s been overwhelming to say the least how much this movement has grown over the last few months. Who knows where this will take us next?”
Indivisible Greenwich and March on Greenwich, which formed after Trump’s election, have put forward dozens of candidates in that town.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill visits the Hartford Public Library today to discusses early voting
Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill visited the Hartford Public Library Tuesday morning to discuss early voting with reporters before a naturalization ceremony for 30 new American citizens. She said she was honored to be there as new citizens were sworn in.
Asked whether there had been problems at the polls, Merrill said that the death of Councilman Gregg Seabury on Saturday had led to problems. Her office released a statement offering condolences, but she said the town had failed to follow the law with respect to how they were handling the ballots.
Merrill said that Seabury, a Republican who was 67 and served as majority leader on the Danbury City Council, could have been replaced by the Danbury Republican Party on the ballot up until 2 p.m. Monday, according to state law. Failing that, she said the town should have either reprinted the ballots without his name, or crossed his name off all the ballots by hand. The town apparently opted for none of those options, Merrill said, and Seabury’s name is still on the ballots in Danbury today.
More to come