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Voters take a chance to register on Election Day

Published 11/05/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 11/06/2013 03:26 PM

At Stonington Town Hall mid-Tuesday morning, registrars Terry Grimes and Linda Camelio were explaining that nine citizens had shown up to same-day register.

Fifty-year-old Ed Gaffney entered and said, "I must be in the right place." He said it was first time to vote in any election. "I've got a good friend running. I wouldn't feel great if he lost by one vote and I hadn't voted."

Around 4 :30 p.m. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who serves as the state's top elections official tweeted that "a steady stream of new #CT #voters (is) using #Election Day registration." This was Connecticut's first attempt at allowing citizens over 18 who reside in the state to register and vote on Election Day.

Those wanting to register to vote had to go to a designated location and go through a specific process in order to cast a ballot. Most local registrars of voters designated their offices as the places to register and vote.

Connecticut was the 11th state to enact Election Day voter registration when the law was passed in 2012. Merrill called it a "long overdue reform.

Some states have allowed Election Day registration for more than 40 years, and the secretary of the state said there is evidence that states with same-day registration have voter turnouts up to 10 percent higher than states without it.

Eight people had registered by 4:45 p.m. to vote in North Stonington.

The fact that people can now registrar on Election Day was well publicized at the candidates' debate in town and on the community bulletin board, said Marilyn Mackay, the Democratic registrar of voters.

Mackay said she thinks the state should have changed the law a long time ago.

"If you want people to vote, make it easy for them, as long as there are appropriate measures so you don't have any sort of problems," she said. "Essentially, why not?"

By 6 tonight, 21 people had taken advantage of the new same-day registration process in Stonington.

“It was more than we expected considering how little it was advertised,” said Republican Registrar of Voters Linda Camelio.

She said that if the provision was in effect for the much busier presidential election, she and Democratic Registrar of Voters Theresa Grimes would have needed to hire a person to process the same-day registrations. On Tuesday, the two registrars processed the applications while attending to their other Election Day duties.

Camelio said the process worked pretty well. If a person wanting to register was previously registered in another town, she said she called that town to make sure the person had been removed from the voting list in that town or had not already voted there on Tuesday.

Town News

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