Before the Nov. 4 presidential election, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz had predicted that 90 percent of registered voters in Connecticut would go to the polls. Like election officials elsewhere in the nation who anticipated prodigious participation, Ms. Bysiewicz was off the mark. The turnout in Connecticut was "only" 80.5 percent — but that's nothing to cry about.
The 80.5 percent was higher than in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. The raw number of people who voted — some 1.6 million — was a record even though the 90 percent projection was not reached. It appears that the youth and minority vote was up markedly, Ms. Bysiewicz said. Connecticut voters obviously took their civic duty seriously.
The secretary of the state said she had based her ambitious projection of 90 percent turnout on several factors, including the 300,000 new voters who registered between Jan. 4 and Oct. 28, the fact that there had been a 10 percent increase in voter turnout for the Democratic presidential primary this year over the Lamont-Lieberman Senate Democratic primary in 2006 — and her concern that election officials across the state be ready for a huge turnout by having enough ballots on hand.
Another factor at play in undershooting the turnout projection in Connecticut — and nationwide — could have been the lack of enthusiasm that seems to have kept significant numbers of Republican voters at home this year.
Still, the 80.5 percent turnout in Connecticut in this general election was a positive sign of civic health.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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