As election nears, Westport's clerk reminds residents to leave enough time if they plan voting absentee

A stack of late ballots from the 2020 primary in Town Clerk Patricia Strauss' office.

A stack of late ballots from the 2020 primary in Town Clerk Patricia Strauss' office.

contributed photo

WESTPORT — After the Aug. 11 primary, Town Clerk Patricia Strauss was left with a seven-inch stack of uncounted ballots because they were returned late.

So she’s reminding residents to follow proper procedures for the November election to make sure their vote is counted.

The state will shortly begin sending out absentee ballot applications for the presidential election. Because of the pandemic, all voters will be permitted to vote absentee by order of the governor’s office.

Strauss said her office is expecting to field more absentee ballots than usual, going by the Aug. 11 vote.

For the primary, Strauss said more than 4,700 applications were requested and mailed out, but around 3,250 were returned on time. She said absentee ballots for November’s election must be in the town clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day to avoid a similar fate.

“The postmark on the absentee ballot is not important,” Strauss said. “It doesn’t matter what the postmark is, if it doesn’t arrive before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 your ballot will not count.”

Some 2,726 Democrats voted absentee and 518 voted in person in the primary, according to the town clerk’s office. In comparison, 549 Republicans voted absentee and 416 voted in-person in the primary.

The primary showed statewide more Democrats were comfortable voting absentee than Republicans during the pandemic. And this year’s election comes as the town’s political demography has experienced a change.

More Information

For more information on the 2020 election, please visit the town clerk's web page at

“For the first time, Democrats have doubled Republicans,” Marla Cowden, Democratic Registrar of Voters, said.

As of Sept. 10, there are 8,243 Democrats registered in town compared with 4,120 Republicans and 6,760 unaffiliated voters, according to the registrars office. In comparison, in 2016 there were 6,746 Democrats registered in town, 4,615 Republicans and 6,174 unaffiliated voters.

While the state has begun the process of mailing out absentee ballot applications to registered voters, Strauss said it’s important residents remember the ballots themselves will not be mailed out until Oct. 2.

“I just got one back in September. It was mailed from Westport on Sept. 10 from somebody and I received it on Sept. 11,” she said. “They think they’re voting for the election and I haven’t even sent out a ballot for the election yet. There’s a lot of people that need to understand the voting process for the November election.”

Mail-in ballots can be returned by a postage paid envelope in the regular mail, any express mail delivery service or dropped in the ballot drop box at the rear entrance of town hall once they are sent out, she said.

All five polling places will also be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Election Day for those who wish to vote in-person.

“Again, there’s many options to get your ballot back to the town hall in time for it to be counted,” Strauss said.