NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk's registrars of voters have called in the troops to deal with a sudden influx of interest in November's election, Norwalk's Republican registrar said Friday.
"There's a high interest," Karen Doyle Lyons said, indicating that the interest is higher than usual with an incumbent president seeking re-election.
Former City Clerk Ellen Wink was sitting in the hallway outside the registrars' office on the first floor of City Hall on Friday, her first day on duty as a member of the troops, helping people fill out voter registration forms. There had been an uptick in interest since the presidential debate Wednesday, Wink said, hence the need for her station, which was set up Friday morning.
Lyons agreed, saying voter that although registrations were "good" in September and "steady" in October, "Yesterday was a rough day."
Calling in the troops is not unusual, Lyons said. Wink has experience in the registrars' office and knows all the procedures.
Things were a bit hectic Friday in the town clerk's office, where 871 absentee ballots had been made ready to mail on the last day that it could be done. There had been a holdup due to a lawsuit filed in Hartford over which candidate would be on the top line, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said. The ballots were then sent out by next-day mail, and his office received them Thursday.
The number of absentee ballots is higher than usual, Assistant Town Clerk Debbie Troy said. She couldn't give actual numbers, but, "It's definitely up," she said.
It was also the first day people could vote by coming in to the office and filling out absentee ballots, and several people had taken advantage of that opportunity.
Interest was greater than usual, as evidenced by the voter registration, said Rosemary Tobin, a part-timer in the registrars' office. But Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells disagreed. Four years ago, 3,000 new people registered, he said.
Lyons expects 2,000 to 3,000 voter registrations this time.
Many people come in and register when it is unnecessary – if they are registered and have been voting regularly they are still registered, Democratic Deputy Registrar Robert Sodaro said. "You have to miss four or five elections in a row" to be ineligible to vote, he said.
The interest in the presidential election is "ironic," he said.
"Truthfully, your mayor, your board of education, your city council, those people actually have more control over your day to day life than the president who's got this big nation to cover," Sodaro said. "But most people don't know who represents them on town council. It would be great if we could get more people to come out for that election."
The registrar's office will be open extra hours for voter registrations Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The office will also be open until 8 p.m. Oct. 30.
Correction made, Oct. 9