Update 11:51 p.m.
Despite low turnout at the polls, voters in Wilton backed their parties’ favored candidates in today’s primary election. There was only one race on the ballot for both Republicans and Democrats—the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Joseph Lieberman—and Wilton’s eligible voters came out to support Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Linda McMahon.
According to results released late tonight by Wilton’s registrars of voters, the following are the tallies of votes cast at the town’s three polling locations (winners are bolded, tallies include absentee ballot counts):
Wilton High School (Dist. 1)
Cider Mill School (Dist. 2)
Middlebrook School (Dist. 3)
Chris Murphy (D)
Susan Bysiewicz (D)
Linda McMahon (R)
Chris Shays (R)
Of Wilton’s 2,925 registered Democrats who were eligible to vote, 516 (18%) came to the polls today; there were 1,013 Republicans (24%) out of 4,195 eligible voters who cast ballots as well.
Wilton voters have been slow to turn out to vote in this year’s Connecticut primary, say town registrars of voters. As of 4 p.m. only 832 voters had cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican Senate primary races.
“It’s been steady but quite low. Out of the people who are eligible to vote, that’s about a 12 percent turnout—and that’s in all three districts and for both parties, combined,” said Carole Young-Kleinfeld, the Democratic registrar.
One factor that might have contributed to the low turnout was that some Wilton voters didn’t know exactly where to vote. This year’s redistricting forced a change in polling locations for many voters, and despite efforts the registrars felt they made to notify voters well ahead of time—including mailed notifications, advance publicity and posted notices around town—some residents were still confused.
“I think it was difficult for people. We had lots of phone calls, even though we sent out two rounds of postcard notification to every household in Wilton with eligible voters, and we had people calling us to say, ‘I received a postcard that my polling place changed, but I don’t think that’s correct.’ We had several of those calls,” Young-Kleinfeld said.
With the primary happening so late in the election cycle, the GOP has already decided on its party’s presumptive presidential nominee. Wilton Republicans didn’t find that race on their ballot. In fact, for town voters in both political parties, there was only one vote to cast, a fact that may have played a part in keeping voters away from the polls.
“There’s only one office that they’re voting on [in each political party], they only have a choice of one person each, so there’s not a lot of candidates, whereas in 2010 there was a lot more on the ballot” said Republican registrar Tina Gardner.
One voter who did turn out was Sibylle Kinley. “It’s unfortunate that the primary is in the middle of August when so many people are out of town. Summer is a time when you think things slow down a little, but not a lot of people are going to take the time for the absentee ballot for something like this. So it was important to come out."
Wilton did implement one relatively new effort to help voters better access the polls, especially for residents who were unable to come into the precincts to cast their ballots. All three voting locations offered curbside voting, which permits moderators to walk ballots outside to voters who can’t walk in themselves.
“The law changed two years ago, and it’s something we’re very supportive of and happy about. Not too many people took advantage of it, though, and we’d like to get the word out to make that a little easier to use,” added Young-Kleinfeld.
Polls in Wilton remain open until 8 p.m. Tuesday evening. District 1 votes at Wilton High School (Clune Center Lobby), District 2 votes at Cider Mill School, and District 3 votes at the Middlebrook School cafeteria.
Patch will update readers as soon as results are available from the registrars’ office.