Obama Wins Connecticut's Electoral Votes; Turnout Heavy
Secretary Of The State Says Numbers Could Match 2008
By DON STACOM and MATT STURDEVANT
November 07, 2012
Heavy voter turnout was reported statewide on Tuesday, and hundreds of people stood in line after polls closed in some of Connecticut's largest cities — even after President Barack Obama was projected to win the state's seven electoral votes and Chris Murphy was expected to defeat Linda McMahon for the U.S. Senate seat.
Turnout was estimated to be nearly 80 percent, according to the Secretary of the State's office.
"We are on track to hit our 75- to 80-percent turnout for the day," said spokesman Av Harris. "It's a very heavy turnout today."
"It went very smoothly for a presidential election," he said. "Much more smoothly than a couple of years ago … everybody was prepared."
In Hartford, hundreds of people waited in a line at city hall that snaked around corners and up staircases after 9 p.m.
City Clerk John V. Bazzano said he was confident that there were enough ballots for everyone. He was one of a handful of officials helping voters with their applications for presidential ballots.
Verona Antoine said she went to Hartford city hall at 4:30 p.m. to cast her vote and left at 8 p.m. As polls closed, police estimated a 3-hour wait for those at the end of the line.
Democratic Registrar Olga Vazquez urged people to keep their place in line or risk losing it.
In New Britain at 8:45 p.m., there were still 100 unregistered voters in line to cast presidential ballots. Many said they had been waiting for two hours to vote.
Qiyya Reed, 21, a credit union teller, said she had never voted before and didn't have time to register. She said she arrived at 5:40 p.m. At 9 p.m., she received her ballot.
"My moral integrity would not let me not vote," she said, adding that she regretted not casting a ballot in the Senate race.
"The presidential ballots at the town clerk's office have been heavy all day," said Peter Gostin, the Republican registrar of voters in New Britain.
Presidential ballots, issued by the town clerk, have been around since the 2000 election, said Av Harris, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. Residents who have not registered to vote may apply for a presidential ballot up until the polls close on Election Day.
Those voting on provisional ballots may vote only for president, and those ballots are counted separately from the full ballots that include votes for other offices.
"Presidential ballots have their own separate count. This only affects totals for president," Harris said.
In New Haven, turnout was heavy, including at the city clerk's office, where voters were casting presidential ballots after polls closed. But the counting was underway.
"We're going to be here until like 1 o'clock in the morning, anyway. It's not going to make that much of a difference," said John Cirello, the chief moderator.
Throughout the state, turnout was high by midday: 42 percent of registered voters in Rocky Hill by 1 p.m.; 45 percent in Suffield by noon; 45 percent in Salisbury by 11 a.m.; 38 percent in Southbury by noon; 35 percent in South Windsor by 11 a.m.; 32 percent in Stamford by 11 a.m.; 33 percent in Windsor Locks by 11 a.m.; 26 percent in Waterford by 10 a.m.; 31 percent in Union by 10 a.m.; 20 percent in Southington by 10 a.m.
In West Hartford, the high voter turnout, combined with a reduction in polling places from 20 to nine, caused frustration by midmorning Tuesday, when 90-minute waits led some exasperated residents to walk away without voting and prompted the secretary of the state's office to send extra poll workers. The lines dwindled by 1 p.m. after additional poll workers came in to assist.
"That was the most serious issue," Harris said.
Merrill said she expected 70 percent to 80 percent of Connecticut's nearly 2.1 million voters to turn out to vote — 768,000 Democrats, 430,000 Republicans and 872,000 unaffiliated voters. The overall total reflects 200,000 new voter registrations this year, and is the second-highest total in the state's history; the highest was in 2008, when Obama's first-time presidential candidacy generated great enthusiasm, she said.
Early Tuesday in Fairfield, which was ravaged by storm Sandy last week, voting was quick. But the line to gain access to homes near the beach was longer, as residents had to wait for passes to get to their shoreline properties.
At the Roger Sherman School in Fairfield, the conversations in line weren't about who was voting for whom, but rather which streets had power and who was lucky enough to get a hot shower. The school is the closest voting spot to the beach area devastated by Sandy.
In Hartford, a wooden shim kept the side doors to the gymnasium at the Burns School on Russ and Putnam streets open. Earlier Tuesday, the doors were closed and locked, keeping would-be voters out. People were banging on the doors to gain entrance, and one person, seeing the door ajar, pried it open. The problem persisted until at least 8 a.m.
Voters in the Farmington Valley faced several delays. There were lines at some voting locations, such as Canton Town Hall, where there was a 10-minute wait. Then, traffic stalled along Route 44 at a bottleneck in Avon where line crews were repairing downed power lines and a broken power pole.
Harris said there were no serious problems reported with voting machines.
Courant staff writers Dave Altimari, Shawn Beals, Christine Dempsey, Brian Dowling, MaryEllen Fillo, Rick Green, Dan Haar, Josh Kovner, Mara Lee, Kathleen Megan, Hilda Muñoz, Patrick Raycraft, Stephen Busemeyer and Jim Welch contributed to this story.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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