By Jarret Liotta
Election officials today expressed expectations for a big voter turnout as Westporters went to the polls.
John Englehart was the first voter at Town Hall today, voting in District 136-6. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com
More than twice the number of absentee ballots as in 2014 — the last gubernatorial election — are one indication.
“I think we’re at like 1,700, 1,800 right now,” said Marla Cowden, registrar of voters, compared to 798 four years ago.
“The absentee ballots were hot and heavy this year,” she said, with a total of 18,629 registered voters in Westport as of Monday.
“It’s a crazy morning,” she said of the first wave when polls opened at 6 a.m. “We’ve had long lines, certainly here at Town Hall,” which is hosting District 136-6.
“If the early morning is any indication, it’s going to be a heavy turnout day,” she said.
“We had a rush,” Fran Signore, moderator for District 143, said of the morning’s first wave. “I was surprised.”
Likewise, Moderator Dick Lowenstein saw high numbers when the polls opened for District 136-1, which like District 143 is being hosted at Saugatuck Elementary School.
“We had 50 in the first 15 minutes,” he said. “It’s a good number. They were waiting on line to come in.”
High emotions relating to national politics and events are likely part of what’s fueling higher turnout.
“I’m excited about this election and feel strongly about it,” said John Englehart, who was the first voter at Town Hall. “And I’m thrilled by this principle of citizenship.”
“I’m angry,” said voter Carol Wahler. “Everything that’s happening (and) I can’t stand the president.”
“I’m tired of the lies,” said her husband, Allen. “Government has let us down and I’m hoping that my vote will count and that we’ll make a change for the better.
“There’s too much divisiveness in this country,” he said, “too much hatred … too much anti-Semitism, too much racism.”
“It’s got to change and it’s got to stop,” he said.