New Canaan voter turnout surpasses 2014 levels
NEW CANAAN — Town officials were expecting heavy turnout on Election Day.
But even with that, many were surprised at the energy and number of people who arrived in droves to vote from the early morning hours and into the evening.
“It’s a tremendous turnout,” Liz Orteig, a moderator at the Saxe Middle School polling location, said around noon on Tuesday. “We’re expecting really high numbers and it’s exciting to see people come out and vote.”
The energy was palpable from members of both parties. Tents for the Republican and Democratic town committees located outside polling locations were surrounded by hundreds of political signs.
That hype translated into numbers.
With three hours left for polls to close, turnout in New Canaan was already on par with that of the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Turnout four years ago was at 55.78 percent, meaning 7,172 out of 12,857 eligible voters had cast their ballots then.
By the time the polls closed at 8 p.m. this year, voter turnout had reached 68.77 percent. Out of over 14,000 eligible voters, 9,675 cast their ballots — and 1,121 of those were absentee ballots, well ahead of the 2014 number, which hovered above 500.
In comparison, turnout for presidential elections, like in 2016, was considerably higher. Two years ago, that reached 80 percent, though Tuesday’s numbers were not too far off the mark.
Jonathan Bruno, who said he used to be a registered Republican, predicted a Blue Wave across the country.
“People need a check on this guy,” he said, referring to President Donald Trump. “I think a lot of voters on the fence will come out and cast their ballots today.”
Though many voters framed their votes in a referendum of sorts on Washington and Trump, others focused more on matters closer to home.
“I’m concerned about schools and the economy,” Jessica Michelle, a Peru native who became a citizen a few years ago. “I’m thinking of my children and how their education is going to be and I’d like a change.”
Residents also showed up in constant flows to town hall to register on Election Day.
Shelby Haydo was voting for her second time, but braved the rain to town hall to ensure she was appropriately registered.
“My mother is a big proponent of voting,” Haydo said. For her, the issues were focused on the state level. “It’s hard to find a job in Connecticut.”
Polish native and American citizen Helena Chruslinska, knowing very little English, also went to town hall to make sure her registration was up-to-date. Several town hall officials — with the help of Google translate — informed her about her district and corresponding polling station.
Election Day brought a number of upsets and, as a result, New Canaan residents will see a different set of faces representing them at the state level.
State Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-125, was the only Republican to fend off a Democratic opponent, Ross Tartell, in what was one of his closest races.
Fellow state representative Fred Wilms, R-142, and both state senators Toni Boucher, R-26, and L. Scott Frantz, R-36, were ousted by their Democratic opponents Will Haskell and Alexandra Bergstein, respectively.