Light turnout expected across state today as primary races go to the polls

Hartford - Voters who are registered with a political party can go to the polls today to decide primary races, including which Democrat and Republican will have the chance to succeed Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Those who need help in finding their polling places can use a new online service announced by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on Monday.

The polling site locator - complete with Google maps and detailed directions - is accessible via the secretary of the state's homepage, www.sots.ct.gov. Users must click on the red, white and blue "Where do I vote?" button on the right side of the screen and then input their home address at the prompt. The free service, courtesy of the state's partnership with the Pew Center on the States' Voting Information Project, can also be downloaded as a smart phone application.

Merrill suggested that voters double check their local polling site because some locations are different this year because of redistricting.

She predicted that only 25 percent to 30 percent of registered voters will cast ballots today, based on past years' turnout for primaries.

"I'm sad to think that only 30 percent is considered a typical turnout," Merrill said, adding later, "We just don't have the same attitude as a society toward voting as I think we did, you know, maybe after World War II, where people thought it was their duty to vote. I just don't sense that same attitude."

Polls are open today from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. To vote in a Connecticut primary, a voter must be registered with a political party. High school-aged voters who are 17 but turn 18 by the Nov. 6 election are eligible to vote today as well.

This year's hot statewide race is for the U.S. Senate seat of Joe Lieberman, the Democrat who is retiring.

U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th, the convention-endorsed Democrat for Senate and the race's frontrunner, is trying to fend off a primary challenge from Susan Bysiewicz, the former secretary of the state.

On the Republican side, WWE mogul Linda McMahon is facing a challenge from former Fairfield County congressman Christopher Shays.

In the 2nd Congressional District Republican primary, Daria Novak of Madison is challenging East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica for the right to face Democratic incumbent Joe Courtney in November.

And in a closely watched Democratic primary in the 19th state Senate district, Rep. Tom Reynolds, D-Ledyard, faces Sprague First Selectman Cathy Osten. The winner will go up against Republican state Rep. Chris Coutu of Norwich in the fall. The district's longtime incumbent, Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, is retiring.

Merrill's office and the State Elections Enforcement Commission are again operating an election hotline today to respond to any concerns or reports of problems at the polls. The hotline can be reached at (866) 733-2463 or via email at elections@ct.gov.

Also Monday, Merrill criticized the Connecticut Republican Party for filing a lawsuit last week that seeks to overturn her ruling that allows Democrats to keep the top line on the November ballot.

Merrill, a Democrat and former state legislator, called the lawsuit, "an insult to the hard-working men and women in the secretary of the state's office. Most of my staff are dedicated civil servants who have worked under Democratic and Republican administrators."

But the GOP contends that Republicans deserve to be listed first on the ballot because state law reads that "the party whose candidate for Governor polled the highest number of votes in the last preceding election" gets to be first.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is a Democrat, but he was cross endorsed by the Connecticut Working Families Party and needed those votes to win in 2010. Republican Tom Foley received 560,874 votes that year; Malloy as a Democrat received 540,970 votes; Malloy as Connecticut Working Families Party received 26,308 votes for the narrow victory.

Jerry Labriola Jr., chairman of the state GOP, called Merrill's decision "unfounded and apparently partisan-driven."

"We believe the secretary of the state's interpretation is wrong and it would be unfair to Connecticut voters to allow these elections to proceed unlawfully," he said in a statement that accompanied last week's filing.

Merrill defended her decision through this logic: "Dannel Malloy received the most votes for governor in the last state election. Governor Malloy is a Democrat. Therefore, his party is awarded the top ballot line for our elections."

She also questioned the potential benefits of having the top line on the ballot.

"Remember Senator Lieberman. He was on the third line and people still found him in 2006," Merrill said.

j.reindl@theday.com

Polling places

Polling places for primaries today.

East Lyme
Districts 1, 2 and 3: Community Center, 37 Society Road

Groton
District 1: Groton Public Library, Newtown Road, Route 117
District 2: West Side Middle School, 250 Brandegee Ave.
District 3: City Municipal Building, 295 Meridian St.
District 4: William Seely School, 55 Seely School Drive
District 5: Charles Barnum School, 68 Briar Hill Road
District 6: School Administration Building, 1300 Flanders Road, Mystic
District 7: S.B. Butler School, 155 Ocean View Ave., Mystic
District 8: Town Hall Annex, 134 Groton Long Point Road

Ledyard
District 1: Ledyard Center School, 740 Colonel Ledyard Highway
Districts 2 and 3: Juliet Long Elementary School, 1858 Route 12

Lyme
Lyme Fire House, 213 Hamburg Road

Montville
Districts 1 and 6: Town Hall gymnasium, 310 Norwich-New London Turnpike
Districts 2 and 5: Mohegan Firehouse , 2029 Norwich-New London Turnpike
Districts 3 and 4: Fair Oaks School, 836 Old Colchester Road

New London
District 1 (former District 1, 2 and 3): New London High School, 490 Jefferson Ave.
District 2 (former District 4, 5 and 7): Harbor School, 432 Montauk Ave.
District 3 (former District 6): Ocean Beach Park.

North Stonington
New Town Hall, 40 Main St.

Norwich
Precinct 1: John M. Moriarty Elementary School, 20 Lawler Lane
Precinct 2: Kelly Middle School, 25 Mahan Drive
Precinct 3: Samuel Huntington Elementary School,
80 W. Town St.
Precinct 4: John B. Stanton Elementary School, 384 New London Turnpike
Precinct 5: Thames River Academy at Bishop School,
526 E. Main St.

Old Lyme
Cross Lane Fire House, 14 Cross Lane

Preston
Town Hall, 389 Route 2

Salem
Town Offices, 270 Hartford Road

Stonington
District 1: Stonington Borough Firehouse, 100 Main St.
District 2: Pawcatuck Firehouse, 33 Liberty St.
District 3: Deans Mill School, 35 Deans Mill Road
District 4: B.F. Hoxie firehouse, 34 Broadway Ave., Mystic
District 5: School Administration Building, 49 North Stonington Road, Old Mystic

Waterford
District 1: Town Hall, 15 Rope Ferry Road
District 2: Quaker Hill Elementary School, 285 Bloomingdale Road
District 3: Oswegatchie Elementary School, 470 Boston Post Road
District 4: Great Neck Elementary School, 165 Great Neck Road

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