With power restored to all 773 polling places since Sandy darkened the state last week, the state's top election official said Monday that Connecticut is ready for Tuesday's election.
The state's two U.S. Senate contenders kept up their own energy level on the last full day of their nationally watched race.
Republican nominee Linda McMahon blazed a path from Groton west down the coast, then up to central Connecticut and finally to her hometown of Greenwich. "It's been an incredible year for me," she told about 70 supporters on the factory floor of Coil Pro Machinery Inc. in Southington around 11 a.m.
"Now it's about getting people out to the polls," said McMahon, whose campaign is emphasizing a vast field operation and ability to deliver votes on Election Day. "We have good momentum going into tomorrow … I feel I really have some wind at my back."
In Hartford on Monday afternoon, hundreds of supporters surrounded Democratic nominee Chris Murphy at a rally in Union station that featured half a dozen speakers, including former UConn men's basketball coach – and devoted Democrat – Jim Calhoun.
"I'm standing here today not as the basketball coach at UConn, not as anybody except for a 27-year citizen of this incredible state,'' he said. "This is a critical time for each and every one of us."
Calhoun has earned millions of dollars as UConn's coach, but he invoked his working-class roots growing up outside Boston. His father died when Calhoun was 15. "They say you 'don't need a village' – well, I needed a village,'" he said, adding that he had to leave college to help his mother and took a job cutting gravestones.
In calmer surroundings Monday morning, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the chief official in charge Connecticut elections, said during a press conference that despite significant obstacles posed by Sandy, "local election administrators rose to the challenge" in the state's 169 towns and cities.
"The bottom line is, Connecticut is ready to vote tomorrow," Merrill said.
Flooding in two coastline cities forced relocation of the Ocean Beach Park polling place in New London to Harbor School and the Longfellow School polling place in Bridgeport to AquaCulture School.
Merrill said she expects 70 percent to 80 percent of Connecticut's nearly 2.1 million voters to turn out to vote in the presidential election — 768,000 Democrats, 430,000 Republicans and 872,000 unaffiliated voters. The total reflects 200,000 new voter registrations this year.
Merrill said that if people have any difficulties at the polls they can call the Election Day hot line – 1-866-733-2463 – to reach a representative of the State Elections Enforcement Commission. There's an email hot line too: email@example.com.
Merrill reminded voters to bring identification to the polls. A driver's license is best, but other acceptable identification includes a bank statement, utility bill, pay stub or Social Security card.
Voters who don't know their polling place can go to the secretary of the state's website, SOTS.ct.gov, and click on the "Where do I vote" button on the right-hand side.
People who are eligible to vote, but have not registered, can go to their town clerk's office and fill out a presidential ballot, which allows them to vote only for president – and no lower offices.
If a voter gets to a polling place, and finds that his or her name is not on the list, a provisional ballot is available that can be filled out but kept aside to be counted only in event of a close election, Merrill said.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
This year, Merrill said, the Connecticut Bar Association has lined up 100 attorneys to go to any polling place where problems are reported. If one of the volunteers finds a problem, he or she will report back to election officials, who can take action to correct it, Merrill said. The volunteer attorneys have no power to tell anyone what to do, but can relay information, Merrill said.
"We are very excited about this program, which has never been tried before, because this means that our office will be able to have our eyes and ears on Election Day," Merrill said.
Staff writers Daniela Altimari and Amanda Falcone and freelancer Jenny Wilson contributed to this story.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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