Elections Government

Rain Not Dampening Voter Turnout in West Hartford

Rain isn't stopping people from voting in the 2016 presidential primary. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Perkins

West Hartford voters are turning out in force for presidential primary voting, and so far the only issue has been ballots getting wet from rain dripping off coats and umbrellas.

Rain isn't stopping people from voting in the 2016 presidential primary. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Perkins

Rain isn’t stopping people from voting in the 2016 presidential primary. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Perkins

By Ronni Newton

Voting has been running fairly smoothly at polling places throughout West Hartford as registered Republicans and Democrats turn out to vote in the 2016 presidential primary, Democratic Registrar of Voters Alice Weibel said Tuesday morning.

As of 9 a.m., about 2,700 voters had already cast their ballots throughout town, but shortly after 11 a.m., Bristow Middle School had already seen 50 percent more voters, Weibel said. Turnout numbers will be updated later today, she said.

“I have a feeling that even with the rain, people do care and are getting out there,” said Weibel. Those who are voting include many young, first-time voters.

“This is the first presidential year where 17-year-olds who are going to be 18 by the general election can vote in the primary,” said Weibel. Registration drives were held earlier this month at both Conard and Hall, and the teens were very excited to register, she said.

The rain is causing some minor problems with voting machines. Water that drips off raincoats and umbrellas have made ballots wet while people are filling them out. “The machines are very sensitive to water and if the tabulator jams, the voter is asked to put their ballot in the auxiliary tabulator to be run through a replacement tabulator later today,” Republican Registrar of Voters Beth Kyle said.

Comments on Facebook indicate that there have not been problems with lines at any of the town’s polling places.

Some residents have complained that candidates’ signs have been planted in the ground in front of some of the polling sites. “If the signs are there they are supposed to be being held by people,” said Weibel. Supporters of candidates are also supposed to remain 75 feet from the door of the polling place.

“It happens every year. People stick signs in town property. When the grounds people get a chance they pull them out because they’re not supposed to be there,” Weibel said.

The biggest issue has been that people who are not registered Republicans or Democrats are showing up to vote. “People don’t realize that those who are registered ‘Independent’ can’t vote,” said Weibel. Connecticut is a closed primary state, with primary voting only for the two major parties. Those who were unaffiliated had until noon on Monday to register with a party, but those who were affiliated with a party already (including the “Independent” party) needed to make changes three months in advance to be able to vote in the primary.

Absentee ballots will be opened and tabulated at Town Hall this afternoon. The ballots that had already been submitted had been accepted from the Town Clerk’s office in the morning, and there were 999, said Weibel. Additional ballots may be dropped off later in the day, she said.

Click here for more information on voting in West Hartford, school security that is in place, and a list of polling places. The list of specific rooms at each polling place can be found by clicking here.

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