Locals have their say on Election Day
Robert Frost, in "My November Guest," wrote that "dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be."
Of course, he wasn't standing in a 6 a.m. squall outside New London's Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School on Election Day.
Under respective umbrellas, Danni Cruz, Susan Hambey and Alisha Blake, all Democratic candidates for Board of Education, were, well, damp. Turnout was thus far slow.
"It's raining and it's early," Hambey said, "and it's important to be here when the voters do come."
"With the lack of progress going on in Washington, D.C., maybe people will refocus on municipal elections," Cruz said. "We heard interest during the campaign, knocking on doors."
One early voter first in line at Hale when polls opened at 6 a.m. was Mayor Michael Passero. He cast his ballot, chatted with workers and volunteers, then headed back into the rain to visit other polling stations.
By mid-morning, voting was steady at New London's three polling locations as residents weaved past thickets of campaign signs and knots of candidates on their way to cast ballots for the mayoral, City Council and Board of Education races.
Several council and board candidates moved from voting site to voting site ahead of the expected lunchtime voting rush. Several voters - both Democrat and Republican - said they planned for the first time to split their ballots and select candidates from at least one other party.
“Usually, I’ll vote for just one party,” said Joann Church, a city resident for more than 10 years. “I do spend time reading about the candidates and listening to them.”
As of noon, 729, or 4.66%, of New London's 15,644 registered voters had cast ballots, according to unofficial tallies from the Office of the Secretary of the State.
Voters come out in Stonington for four-way race
In the town’s first four-way race for first selectman, turnout has been steady.
Election Moderator Audrey Brown said turn out at Stonington Middle School, has been constant, and higher than normal with 984 votes cast by 4:30 p.m..
“For a local election, it’s been very busy all day,” she said.
In Stonington Borough, turn out at the fire department was also steady.
“We are very pleased with the turn out,” Election Moderator Catherine Deichman said about the 1,062 votes cast by 4:45 p.m..
For the first time in town history, four forst selectman candidates are vying for the top spot in town, and four selectman candidates are also in the ballot.
A first for Groton City voters
A steady stream of voters turned out in the City of Groton, which is holding its elections for the first time in November. The city historically has held its elections in May. The town, as usual, is holding its elections
City resident Greg Heimann said he thought it was good to hold the city elections in November because he believes having two separate voting days in Groton - or four if there are primaries - can lead to voter fatigue.
‘Pretty good’ turnout in Old Lyme
In Old Lyme, more than a quarter of the town’s nearly 6,000 registered voters had cast ballots by 1 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, the town’s sole polling place, according to Fred Verillo, the head moderator.
Verillo pronounced the turnout “pretty good” at that point, saying the voting was light initially due to rain but surged in late morning. He said he expected another surge at the end of the workday.
By 3:30 p.m., 2,176 of Old Lyme’s nearly 6,000 registered voters had cast ballots, according to Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker, the Democratic candidate for first selectman. Shoemaker said some 300 absentee ballots had been cast earlier. Shoemaker said she arrived at the town’s sole polling place, Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, at 6:15 a.m. and expected to remain there until the votes are counted after 8 p.m. Her opponent, Republican John Mesham, also has been a presence at the site.
As of Monday, there were 1,924 registered Democrats in town, 1,596 registered Republicans and 2,364 unaffiliated voters. Ninety-seven voters were registered with other parties.
Growing pains on the ballot in East Lyme
In East Lyme, turnout by 2 p.m. reached 20.4%, according to Democratic Registrar of Voters Wendi Sims. About 32.1% of registered voters came out by the end of Election Day 2021.
Sims said morning showers may have kept people away during the early part of the day, with only 11% of voters turning out by 11 a.m. She suggested those who left for work before polls opened or just arrived home after a long night ― like those tending to Millstone Nuclear Power Plant’s intensive outage operations ― may mean more voters later.
East Lyme voters throughout the election season have expressed concerns about the pace of business and residential growth in a town that’s seen numerous large-scale developments over the past decade, from Costco and hundreds of nearby apartments and condominiums in the Flanders section of town to multiple three-story mixes of business and residential units on Main Street in Niantic. The concerns about growth cross party lines, though solutions differ.
Navigating Norwich’s crowded ballot
Norwich election officials were pleased with this morning’s voter turnout, which topped 11% by noon in a municipal election without a mayor’s race. The ballot is crowded, with 11 candidates running for City Council and 12 for school board, along with two referendums.
Candidates and election officials said most of the chatter this campaign season centered on the current controversy involving suspended school Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow, as the board awaits a report from an outside investigator on allegations Stringfellow fostered a toxic work environment of intimidation and retaliation.
Off-duty Norwich police officers are holding signs outside polling places urging voters to approve a proposed $44.75 million bond for a new police station. The proposal has been criticized in recent weeks for a plan to locate the new station behind the Rose City Senior Center on Mahan Drive. Supporters say a new station is long overdue, and the costs will just continue to rise if voters turn down the effort for the second time in a dozen years.
Preston too has no top-ticket contests, with the entire Board of Selectmen running unopposed. But turnout reached 14% in Preston as of 2 p.m.
Preston Registrar Andrew Stockton said poll workers started their day with two of the town’s three voting tabulator machines malfunctioning. The third machine worked fine and stayed in use all day.
Youth at the polls in Groton
At City Hall in Groton, there were signs of an Election Day youth movement.
One of the moderators was 21-year-old Reagan Mandeville, whose desk was distinguished by a large insulated water glass, a bottle of Gatorade and a generously sized cup of coffee.
"I've got to stay hydrated," she smiled. "It's a long day."
Mandeville wasn't complaining. She explained she's been an active volunteer in the political process for two years.
"I've always been a very positive person, and if people are voting, I'm encouraged."
One visitor who wasn't voting was three-year-old John Irace.
"I'm reaching him about the process," said his mother, Laura Irace. "why do we vote?" she asked John, whose charming shyness indicated he's not yet ready for the bluster required of the campaign trail.
He looked up at his mom.
"We're choosing people to do leadership jobs," she said, leading him off to a ballot box to to do just that.
‘It’s all good’ in East Lyme
Issues are paramount; it's why we vote.
But some of the biggest Election Day decisions at the East Lyme High School polling place had nothing to do with politics.
Rather, three different groups out front ― Boy Scout Troop Pack 7, Girl Scouts troop 63799 and the East Lyme Senior Graduation Party committee ― were respectively selling popcorn, cookies and assorted baked goods for their causes.
Nine-year-old Scouts Lucas Lawry and Lucas Viens acknowledged that it was Election Day and there were choices to be made.
"We hope people will buy from us, but we support all the tables," he said.
At the Girl Scouts booth, with an array of the organization 's famous cookies, eight-year-old Lucy Byers showed off a box of the late-breaking Adventurefuls recipe, and said, "I don't think we're in competition. We all have good things."
And Jen Adanti, an ELHS parent and member of the part committee, smiled as she gazed at the scout tables.
"It's all good," she said. "We're all doing our best for our communities. And eventually these younger people will be parents and standing behind this table. It's a good experience for all of us."
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