Westport voter roles could top 18,000 before election
Updated 11:22 am, Monday, November 7, 2016
WESTPORT — The town processed over 200 new voter registrations the week of Oct. 28, a sign of the last-minute rush to get on the rolls for the upcoming election.
Registrar of Voters Kevin White said he expects registrations in town to exceed 18,000. As of Tuesday, there are 17,958 registered voters in town: 6,805 Democrats, 4,655 Republicans, 6,343 unaffiliated and 155 labeled as other.
“We have 200 new registrations — net,” White said on Tuesday the last day of voter registration. “We had 52 online (registrations) this morning; we’ve already had half a dozen walk in (to register) by 9 o’clock, 9:30.”
In-person registration ended Tuesday at 8 p.m., but voters could continue to register until midnight that day.
Election Day registration will be offered at town hall — the first presidential election with such an option. For same-day registration, voters can go to the auditorium in Town Hall, register and receive given a ballot that is treated in the same manner as an absentee ballot — it goes into an envelope and is taken to a central counting area. Voters who choose this avenue need to be registered by 8 p.m. to vote. If a potential voter is not registered by then, he or she will not be allowed to vote.
Candidates running for state offices representing Westport
Gail Lavielle: Republican running unopposed for the 143rd state House District
Cathy Walsh: Republican running for the 136th state House District vs. Jonathan Steinberg, Democrat running for re-election in the 136th state House District
Carolanne Curry: Democrat running for the 26th state Senate District vs. Toni Boucher, Republican running for re-election in the 26th state Senate District
Phil Dwyer: Democrat running for the 28th state Senate District vs. Tony Hwang, Republican running for re-election in the 28th state Senate District
For voters who plan to take part in Election Day registration (town hall hours are 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.), White cautions them to arrive well before the 8 p.m. cutoff. Town Hall is the only place same-day registration is available.
All polls in the state are open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.
“The warning is, if you’re not here by 7 p.m., you really need to know, depending upon how busy it is, you may not get registered and be allowed to vote by 8 o’clock. You have to be in the system by 8 p.m.; that’s the difference between the polling places and Election Day registration,” White said.
In anticipation of last-minute registrations, the registrars office will bring in additional workers from 4 to 8 p.m.
“We will do whatever we can to get people in, but at 8 o’clock, the state has told us they are going to turn off the system. If you’re not in, you’re not in,” White said.
“I think that’s a first for me,” Town Clerk Patricia Strauss said. “It’s 20. Twenty extra write-in candidates’ names for president.”
As far as reporting Tuesday’s results, Strauss said only the tape machine totals are going to be reported election night, “and it’s going to be the majority of the ballots,” Strauss said. Election results will be available on the secretary of state’s website under election night reporting. The ballots which are not able to be counted electronically will be hand-counted on Wednesday.
Strauss said she has encountered inquiries on voter fraud specifically. People are concerned with how the person working the polling location knows whether or not the person has already voted. When someone goes to vote, she said, they are required to give their address and identification card, and the person manning the poll goes back to check if that person has voted to ensure they have not already voted.
“We match the actual ballot envelope to the voter list,” White said.
“We verify very, very diligently and very orderly that each one person gets one vote, and that’s it. You cannot vote absentee and walk into the polls and vote too,” Strauss said.