Voter turnout for August primaries well below 2006 level

Nearly 25 percent of Connecticut’s Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans cast ballots in the Aug. 10 primaries, according to final statistics released this afternoon by Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz.

The turnout for last week’s contests, which included a Republican primary for U.S. Senate, GOP and Democratic gubernatorial primaries, and major party races for several state underticket and state legislative district nominations, fell far short of participation rates of recent years.

The August 2006 primary for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate drew 43 percent of party voters, while the February 2008 presidential preference primaries drew 53 percent of Connecticut’s major party voters.

“Obviously, turning voters out to a primary in the middle of the summer when many people are on vacation is a challenge,” Bysiewicz said. “I believe there is much more we can do to make our elections easier and more accessible for Connecticut voters.”

Revising election law to allow potential voters to register and cast ballots on the days of the primary and general election is one step to take, Bysiewicz said, adding that she believes voters would pay more attention to a primary held in June than one in the midst of summer in early August.

Among Democrats, the highest turnout rates were in eastern Connecticut with five communities in Windham, Tolland and Middlesex counties all ranging between 37 and 43 percent. Essex led all communities with 42.4 percent, followed by Hampton with 40.4 percent and Bolton with 39 percent.

The same trend held true with Republicans with six of the seven communities that drew more than 40 percent of voters located east of the Connecticut River.

Bridgewater was the one exception. The Litchfield County town drew 44.2 percent of Republican voters.

Union topped the GOP list with 44.3 percent, followed by Bridgewater and then by Essex with 42.3 percent.