At the City Clerk’s office, a set of red metal boxes for voting districts in New London is steadily filling up as absentee ballots arrive in the mail.
City Clerk Nathan Caron said he had received 575 requests for absentee ballots as of Friday morning. He estimated that about 70 percent of them had arrived back in New London from points around the world.
“It’s been pretty steady for the past month, but it’s really picked up in the past week,” said Caron.
New London residents will cast their votes for president, senator, congressional representative, and state representative and senator in Tuesday’s election. There are three ways to participate in this election.
Under state statutes, voters may apply for absentee ballots due to active military service, absence from town on Election Day, illness or disability, religious tenets forbidding secular activities on Election Day, or duties at a polling place. Although the deadline for a postmarked application request was Oct. 23, voters may still request an absentee ballot in person at City Hall today if they are unable to make it to a polling place on Tuesday.
Caron said the rules under the Federal Voting Assistance Program has also helped to streamline the process. Residents may request a ballot by fax, mail, or e-mail. All residents voting absentee have requested the latter two options. Caron e-mailing the ballots cuts down on the time needed for transition of ballot materials to a voter; under this option, a voter prints out a ballot, fills it out, and returns it via mail.
“It takes half of the waiting period out of the equation,” said Caron.
Caron said clerks must err on the side of caution when receiving envelopes related to absentee ballots, since some do not make it clear whether they contain a ballot or request for ballot. If an envelope containing a ballot is opened prior to the election, it is resealed and locked away until Election Day.
Absentee ballots are counted along with results from polling places, but the Registrar of Voters office will begin counting them at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. No results will be released until after 8 p.m., when polls close.
The voter registration deadline was set for 8 p.m. on Oct. 30., but Gov. Dannel Malloy extended it due to Hurricane Sandy. The deadline passed at 8 p.m. on Thursday. However, Caron said that even if a resident has not registered to vote, he or she may cast a ballot in the presidential election.
Connecticut state law allows residents to participate in the presidential election if they have proof that they are a resident and are not already included on the voter rolls. The presidential ballot will only allow a vote for a president-vice president ticket and does not permit participation in the Senate or state legislature races.
Caron said residents may cast these ballots at the City Clerk’s office during the regular polling hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. He said hundreds of people voted in this way in the 2008 presidential election and recommended that residents defer regular business with the City Clerk’s office to today or after the election since the office will be busy with these voters on Tuesday.
The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the District 3 polling place has been moved from Ocean Beach Park to Harbor School. The school will remain the polling place for District 2 voters.
District 1 voters will vote at New London High School.
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