Election Day in southeastern Connecticut: 'So far, so good'

Voters line the main hallway as they wait to cast their ballots at Precinct 4 at Stanton School in Norwich Tuesday morning, November 8, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Voters line the main hallway as they wait to cast their ballots at Precinct 4 at Stanton School in Norwich Tuesday morning, November 8, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

More than six hours into Election Day, voting in southeastern Connecticut has gone off without a hitch — mostly, at least.

Moderators and registrars from East Lyme to Norwich to New London on Tuesday morning reported things were going smoothly despite the large number of people showing up to vote.

At East Lyme High School, Moderator Deborah Fountain said a line had formed outside the building before the doors opened at 6 a.m.

“It’s really the same standards for every election,” Fountain said of the preparation workers did beforehand. “We just knew that it would be a larger crowd.”

The polling place did have an issue with its tabulating machine upon opening, she said, when a memory card in the machine malfunctioned. The tabulator was back up and running by 6:30 a.m., Fountain said.

She said workers placed the ballots cast during that time into a separate, secure bin, where they were kept until 8 a.m. At that point, two officials from each major party retrieved those ballots and ran them through the tabulator.

At the end of the day, workers will make sure the number of ballots they have, the number of ballots the machine counted and the number of people who’ve been checked off from the books match.

“Everyone will be counted,” Fountain said. "There are many checks and balances.”

Outside, Ronald Rando of Ron’s Guns sat next to two signs: one that read “deplorable, deplorable Hillary” and another with phrases including “Hillary to Jail!” and “Donald J. Trump to the White House.”

Rando said he chose to sit out in the cold weather because he’s worried about what his kids will have to live with if a major change — aka the election of Donald Trump — isn’t made. He cited issues such as abortion and illegal immigration as ones that concern him.

“I’ve been involved in politics since I was 18 years old,” the 80-year-old said. “I’ve never, never, never missed a vote. I strongly believe in my country, and our country is going down the tubes.”

At New London School High School, Moderator Rose Butler said she and other staffers, aware of the stress this election cycle brought to many, were doing their best to be friendly and helpful.

A lifelong resident of New London, the 56-year-old said she’s been working on Election Days for about 24 years. Workers at the station were provided noticeably more ballots this time around, she pointed out.

“Things are going really well,” she said. “So far, so good.”

Like at many other polling places, a bake sale and local candidates sprung up outside, the former to benefit the high school band and the latter to greet folks as they arrived.

“We’re supposed to have good weather,” said Ronna Stuller, Green Party candidate for the 39th District, with campaign signs in hand. “Election Day often isn’t so nice … so today should be good for turnout.”

Standing next to her was Democratic candidate Chris Soto, who said he planned to split time among New London’s three polling places and to work with his team to get as many people out to vote as possible.

“We’re just making sure everybody comes out,” he said.

At the high school, that didn’t seem to be a problem: first-time voters and lifelong voters alike had gathered to cast their votes before the sun had even risen.

One of them said she’d come to help make history and save the country from evil.

Another, Alec Hensley, said he knew he had to get out and pick the better of the bad candidates.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain, either,” the first-time voter said.

Across the region, polling places were marked by full parking lots and police presence, with other things occasionally causing a stir.

In Groton, traffic on state Route 117 quickly backed up when a crew started doing gas line construction directly in front of the Groton Public Library — one of Groton’s seven polling stations.

In Ledyard, a display set up in the back of a pickup near Ledyard Center School, a town polling place, turned some heads. In the truck stood a Hillary Clinton doll — dressed in an orange jumpsuit, the word “liar” painted across its forehead — with its arms through makeshift prison bars.

Overall, though, Waterford Town Hall Moderator Cheryl Larder said things have been civil.

“People have been very good, very respectful so far,” she said. “It’s good to see.”

l.boyle@theday.com

Nathaniel Whipple, center, stands next to his truck with with a Hillary Clinton doll shown behind bars of a jail cell while he talks with friends, Rich Powell, left, and Glenn McKenzie, right, in front of the Ledyard Center School where there is a polling station Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.    (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Nathaniel Whipple, center, stands next to his truck with with a Hillary Clinton doll shown behind bars of a jail cell while he talks with friends, Rich Powell, left, and Glenn McKenzie, right, in front of the Ledyard Center School where there is a polling station Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Candidate Holly Cheeseman (R), running for State Representative for District 37, talks with East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson outside the polling station at East Lyme High School Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Candidate Holly Cheeseman (R), running for State Representative for District 37, talks with East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson outside the polling station at East Lyme High School Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Ronald J. Rando, owner of Ron's Guns in East Lyme, sits next to his truck with anti Hillary Clinton signs outside the polling station at East Lyme High School Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Ronald J. Rando, owner of Ron's Guns in East Lyme, sits next to his truck with anti Hillary Clinton signs outside the polling station at East Lyme High School Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Traffic backs up on Newtown Road in Groton because of gas line work at the intersection of Indian Field Road and the entrance to the the Groton Public Library, where there is a polling station, and the Groton Senior Center Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.    (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Traffic backs up on Newtown Road in Groton because of gas line work at the intersection of Indian Field Road and the entrance to the the Groton Public Library, where there is a polling station, and the Groton Senior Center Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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