Election Day 2018 draws long lines of voters, increase in absentees and voter registration

Yanity Gym saw more than 100 voters file in and out over a 15-minute span around 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6. Long lines of voters looking to cast their ballots have been reported at all three polling stations around town on Election Day. — Steve Coulter photo

Town Hall’s front door is open, and relevant offices are buzzing with election-related activity.

“It’s very busy,” said Democratic Registrar of Voters Cindy Bruno. “Lots of phone calls, election day registrations.”

Any Ridgefielder who is not registered as a voter and can prove they’re 18, a U.S. citizen, and a Ridgefield resident my use “election day registration” to vote at town hall in the Registrars of Voters office up until 8 p.m. tonight.

People who are registered should vote at their usual district polling places: District One at East Ridge, District Two and District Four at Scotts Ridge Middle School, and District Three at Yanity Gym.

(People unsure whether they’re registered or where they vote may check on the town website, ridgefieldct.org by looking under the “government” tab for “departments” then “registrars of voters” and click on “Am I registered to vote?” — it will tell them if they’re registered and the address of their polling place.

Town Clerk Wendy Lionetti is waiting for the last absentee ballots that were issued to be returned — filled out and signed — so the votes will count.

“We’re within 225, we’re hoping they all come back,” Lionetti said.

There were 1,486 absentee ballots issued. When Lionetti spoke to The Press a little after 11 on Election Day morning, there had been 1,261 returned.

“Doors will be open until 8 p.m. for people to drop off an absentee ballot for their spouse, or their child, or their parent,” Lionetti said.

It is too late for people to obtain blank absentee ballots now, said Lionetti, who was open Saturday morning and all day Monday, handing out absentees.

There is a special “emergency ballot” procedure for people who have become seriously ill or injured in the last six days. A relative can contact the town clerk’s office (203-431-2783) to learn more.

The 1,486 absentee ballot issued this year is close to double the 756 absentees issues in 2014, the last comparable election with a ballot headed by the contest for governor, U.S. Senator and Congressional representative, followed by state legislator and then ballot questions.

Turnout

Total election turnout in 2014 was 57% in town, and in the similar election previous to that, 2010, Ridgefield turnout was 64%.

Turnout is highest in presidential election years such as 2016 (79%) and 2012 (82%).

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti observed the strong turnout at the polls earlier this morning.

“Had to wait in a line of about 50-60 people this morning to vote,” she said around 12:30 p.m. “First time ever in 25 years of voting in Ridgefield … Richard [Baldelli] reported 30 minutes ago that the line at Yanity was out the door.”

Registration 

For people who aren’t registered, the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s website (portal.ct.gov/sots) explains the details of election day registration, which Connecticut enacted in 2012:

“Election Day Registration permits anyone to register and vote in person on Election Day who meets the eligibility requirements for voting in this state and is not already registered, OR is registered in one town but has moved to another town.

“By law, a person is eligible to register and vote if he or she is (1) a US citizen, (2) age 18 or older, (3) a bona fide resident of the town in which he or she applies for admission, and (4) has completed confinement and parole if previously convicted of a disenfranchising felony.”

Election Day 2018 registration is not available at regular polling places, but is available at town hall in Ridgefield, from  6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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