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[Updated] Election Day Running Smoothly in West Hartford as Candidates Do Final Campaigning

Candidate and supporters do some last minute campaigning outside Braeburn Elementary School. From left: Aaron Sarwar, Chip Simplicio, Scott Slifka, Judy Casperson, John Bailey, Janeace Slifka, Chris Williams, and Denise Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

[Updated, Nov. 3, 2015, 6:30 p.m.]

According to Republican Registrar of Voters Beth Kyle, total turnout as of 6 p.m. is 8,731, which equates to 23.02 percent of West Hartford’s registered voters. In the last municipal election, in 2013, total voter turnout was 27.64 percent. In 2014, which was a gubernatorial election, turnout was 60.81 percent.

Candidates and supporters greet people outside polling places as West Hartford residents vote in the 2015 municipal election.

Candidate and supporters do some last minute campaigning outside Braeburn Elementary School. From left: Aaron Sarwar, Chip Simplicio, Scott Slifka, Judy Casperson, John Bailey, Janeace Slifka, Chris Williams, and Denise Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Candidate and supporters do some last minute campaigning outside Braeburn Elementary School. From left: Aaron Sarwar, Chip Simplicio, Scott Slifka, Judy Casperson, John Bailey, Janeace Slifka, Chris Williams, and Denise Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

Candidates from both major parties and campaign volunteers, along with supporters of petitioning candidate Aaron Sarwar, were stationed the required 75 feet from the door of each of West Hartford’s nine polling places Tuesday, greeting voters as they headed inside to fill out their ballots.

Town Council candidate and incumbent Chris Barnes stands outside Conard High School with Jack Monahan, a supporter of candidate Chris Williams. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Town Council candidate and incumbent Chris Barnes stands outside Conard High School with Jack Monahan, a supporter of candidate Chris Williams. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The weather on Election Day 2015 – with sunshine and unseasonably mild temperatures in the low to mid 70s – could not have been more cooperative for voters as well as campaigners.

“Voter turnout at 10 a.m. was higher than normal for a municipal election,” Republican Registrar of Voters Beth Kyle said. She did not have any official updates as of early afternoon, but said that anecdotally, poll workers were telling her that the turnout was higher than anticipated.

Voting was “slow but steady with few lulls” an assistant registrar at Conard High School said around 11 a.m. Poll workers were expecting more activity around lunchtime, right after work, and at 7:30 p.m. when people realize that the polls are closing soon.

Democratic Registrar of Voters Carolyn Thornberry said that things were running smoothly at all polling places. The number of polling places was reduced from 20 to nine in 2010, and by now most residents know where they need to vote. The polling locations remain unchanged from 2014, however there are some changes of voting sites withing the buildings.

Maria Verrengia holds up a sign representing the Democratic slate at Wolcott Elementary School on Election Day. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Maria Verrengia holds up a sign representing the Democratic slate at Wolcott Elementary School on Election Day. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Voting at Conard was moved from the auxiliary gym, which is located down a long and poorly-lit hallway, to the cafeteria this year. “Where people used to vote there was an issue with people who had even the slightest disability. We moved to the cafeteria where it’s bigger and there is better lighting,” Thornberry said.

Vikas Thaker (left), a supporter of petitioning candidate Aaron Sarwar stands outside Wolcott Elementary School with Kevin Adams who is holding signs for the Republican slate. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Vikas Thaker (left), a supporter of petitioning candidate Aaron Sarwar stands outside Wolcott Elementary School with Kevin Adams who is holding signs for the Republican Town Council slate. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Wolcott’s voting was moved to the front of the school to make it easier to access from available parking spaces, Thornberry said. Because the locations themselves weren’t changed, there was no official notification sent out.

“This should make things easier,” Thornberry said.

At 10:30 a.m., Republican Town Council candidate Chris Barnes said that more than 400 people had voted at Sedgwick and Braeburn, where turnout is traditionally among the highest. By noon, 690 had voted at Braeburn. Minority Leader Denise Hall said that 1,729 people voted at Braeburn in the last municipal election in 2013.

Mayor Scott Slifka and Republican campaign volunteer Chip Simplicio agreed that voting was “steady and constant” at Braeburn.

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