More than 700 voters turned out for the Republican Caucus' second early voting date -- a number that astonished both candidates and voters.

"That is a surprising number for a Tuesday evening!" first selectman candidate Paul Giusti said after he heard the news. "I thought it was unlikely that it would exceed the last early voting date but it seems like people are very engaged and that is a great thing to see."

First selectman candidate Rob Mallozzi had a similar reaction upon hearing the turnout surpassed the last early voting date's participation.

"That is amazing!" Mallozzi said. "I remember four years ago that the turnout for the entire caucus, including the early voting dates, was around 1,550 and today we are already at around 1,300. That is fantastic. Certainly, the public is very engaged in this process an it's great to see that many people come out to participate."

The first early voting date of June 25 brought in 611 voters while the second date of July 12 had a turnout of more than 700 voters, bringing the grand total to more than 1,311 voters. RTC Chairman James O'Hora said that while he was not sure of the exact number of early voters in previous elections, "this is definitely an increase." O'Hora also said the ballots have been locked up and kept under the watchful eye of the New Canaan Police Department. They will not be opened or tallied until the night of the caucus.

After several debates, two early voting dates and some major campaigning, the actual Republican Caucus will finally take place July 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Saxe Middle School. The outcome 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.

The caucus will serve as the last opportunity for candidates to present their case to the voters. First Selectman and Selectman candidates will have up to five minutes of speaking time while Town Council candidates will have up to 3 minutes.

According to John Murphy, chairman of the Municipal Elections Committee of the RTC, candidates will be able to use all of their allotted time to speak or have the option to "designate another Republican elector to support their candidacy."

The order of the speeches will be determined by the candidates drawing lots before the caucus. After the speeches are concluded, the voting will commence. The RTC tally clerk will count the ballots and the moderator will announce the results at the end of the night.

This year's moderator will be Dennis Taylor, a former New Canaan Republican Town Committee chairman and lawyer who worked on Capitol Hill for 20 years.

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