Spike in voter registrations continues through October

In every city and town in southeastern Connecticut, the number of new unaffiliated, Democratic and Republican voter registrations increased when comparing October 2018 to October 2014, the last midterm election year.

In every municipality but Montville, new Democratic registrations increased at a higher rate than Republican ones.

This is according to numbers the Connecticut Secretary of the State's office provided on Friday. Statewide, Connecticut saw 53,094 new registrations this October compared to 28,100 four years prior – an increase of 53.5 percent for Republicans and 111.3 percent for Democrats.

Those percentage increases are similar in Groton, where 191 people registered as Democrats and 90 as Republicans this October.

Locally, every town saw more unaffiliated registrations than for any party.

Lyme Democratic Registrar of Voters Diane Ahlberg and East Lyme Republican Registrar Mary Smith expressed similar trends they've been seeing: A lot more young people are registering to vote, and there have been an unusual number of party changes.

Ahlberg said she thought it was "amazing" how many people left a party to become unaffiliated. Smith said it was "surprising," considering party changes usually happen around primaries.

Smith said party changes have been "all over the board," but that it's mostly people going from a major party to unaffiliated.

Julie Watson Jones, Democratic registrar in Waterford, said of the ramp-up in registrations, "There might be a few more people registering as Democrats, but it's been pretty amazing to see that's it's been across the board."

The East Lyme and Waterford registrars each said the town got 51 registrations on Oct. 30, the last day someone could register before Election Day.

Waterford saw a particularly large spike in new unaffiliated registrations: from 55 in October 2014 to 158 last month.

Of any town in the region, Montville saw the largest share of its October 2018 registrations come in as unaffiliated, at 50.5 percent of total new registrations.

It also saw the lowest share of new Democratic registrations, at 24.8 percent. The highest share of new Democratic registrations was in New London, though the share of unaffiliated voters was still slightly higher.

New London Democratic Registrar Bill Giesing said the 363 voters added last month were offset by the 266 people removed from the voter list for various reasons, including movement out of the city.

New London has 7,900 registered Democrats, 1,498 Republicans, 6,518 unaffiliated and 215 belonging to other parties. Giesing said he hasn't noticed any unusual trends in the ratio of new party registrations, and that he hasn't seen a noticeable increase in the number of young people.

Dianne Slopak, Republican registrar of voters in Norwich, said Friday that the city saw 787 party registration changes and 759 new voter registrations since just before the Aug. 14 primary.

Between Oct. 29 and 30 alone, Norwich saw 94 new voters registered and 99 voters changing addresses.

The spike in voter registrations in October is consistent with a surge that has been taking place throughout the entire midterm cycle, defined as the day after the 2016 election through the end of October.

When comparing the 2016-18 cycle to 2012-14, new voter registrations have increased by 132.8 percent among those ages 18-24, 142.4 percent among those ages 25-64 and 115.3 percent among those over 65.

As of Friday, according to the Secretary of the State's office, the active voters in the state include 877,336 who are unaffiliated, 792,451 Democrats and 463,144 Republicans. The next most common are Independent (26,848), Libertarian (2,981) and Green Party (1,762).

e.moser@theday.com

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