Before this November's municipal elections, the Republican Town Committee will hold a caucus July 19 to select which candidates will run later this year. However, before the caucus, the RTC will provide New Canaanites two extra voting days in case they may not be here during the actual caucus date.

E. Irene Barrack, the RTC secretary, said the early voting dates will be June 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and July 12 from 5 to 9 p.m. at town hall.

This is not the first time the RTC has implemented early voting dates for a caucus that does not have absentee ballots. Barrack said this practice has been employed for at least the last five years though there was some discussion this year as to whether or not that should be the case this year.

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Barrack explained that some Republicans feel as if the caucus may in fact be the last venue where candidates have the opportunity to sell themselves to voters. On the flip side, Barrack also said the early voting dates can accommodate many in town who leave during the month of July.

"I fought very hard to make sure there was an early voting date this year," Rob Mallozzi, a candidate for First Selectman, said. "Originally there was not going to be an early voting date. So I went to a recent RTC meeting with some supporters and we were very vocal about getting an early voting date. And to the credit of the RTC, they came back and did it."

Mallozzi, who currently serves on the Board of Selectmen, believes the early voting is "absolutely key" to having a fair caucus.

"So many people head out of town and I hate to use this term but it would be an `illegitimate election' if these people were not given the opportunity to vote," Mallozzi explained. "You know how it is in the summer. Some people might have full intentions of being here to vote July 19 but then they get a call from a friend or family member to come out to Block Island for a golf getaway and they may lose out on the opportunity to participate. Now, while people are in town, they can get out and vote and get it done. Then if someone calls them to go to Block Island, they can go knowing they already voted. So I am really thrilled with the RTC's decision and expect a really good crowd."

Barrack added the only state guidelines on early voting for a caucus is that the votes cannot be counted until the night of the actual caucus. So after the early voting dates are done, the ballots will be locked away until July 19. Barrack said the ballots will likely be locked away in the New Canaan Police Station though that has yet to be confirmed. In terms of process, the early voting days will operate in pretty much the same manner as a regular election Barrack said, the only difference being the results will be announced weeks later.

Paul Giusti, current Board of Finance member and another candidate for First Selectman, commended the RTC for doing everything it can to make the voting process more widespread and efficient.

"Any steps that the Republican Party can take to encourage participation and make it easier for people to vote is a plus for the party and the town. The people of New Canaan are very engaged and interested in this election so I think it's terrific that the RTC is making it as easy as possible," Giusti said. "My expectation is that there will be a number of people taking advantage of the early voting dates particularly because many families are away during the time of the caucus."

The actual caucus is scheduled to be July 19 at Saxe Middle School and will decide the Republican endorsement for several positions in town including first selectman, one selectman, town treasurer, town clerk, three members of the Board of Education, three members of the Board of Assessment Appeals, four members of Town Council and four constables. All of the positions have a two year term with the exception of the Board of Education, which has a four-year term.