One-fifth of the CT electorate has already voted — and Democrats are far outpacing Republicans and unaffiliated voters
More than 455,000 people have voted by absentee ballot in Connecticut so far, representing 70% of those who have applied for absentee ballots in the state for the general election. They account for 20% of Connecticut’s 2.2 million registered voters — 28% of registered Democrats, 16% of unaffiliated voters and 14% of registered Republicans.
Less than a third of that total voted by absentee ballot in 2016. The Secretary of the State’s office has made absentee ballot voting more widely accessible this year to all voters concerned about contracting COVID-19.
The partisan uptake of absentee voting is a nationwide phenomenon and could lead to what experts describe as “a blue shift” on and after election night. In-person votes are expected to be counted faster than absentee ballots, which could lead to a scenario where Republicans lead some tallies on election night but Democrats pull ahead later as absentee ballots are counted.
Democrats lead Republicans in absentee voting by a median of 18 percentage points across 168 Connecticut towns; North Canaan has reported no ballot applications or returned ballots, according to the Secretary of The State’s office. North Canaan is not using the Secretary of the State’s central voting registration system but has mailed out a few hundred ballots and has received approximately three-quarters as of Tuesday, according to Jean Jacquier, North Canaan Town Clerk.
Nearly half of Westport voters have applied for absentee ballots, with West Hartford and Old Lyme following close behind. Old Lyme, West Hartford and Chester also top the list for the percentage of people who have cast absentee ballots so far, with a third of voters voting absentee. West Hartford, Woodbridge and Chester also reported the highest gulfs in absentee ballot voting between Democrats and Republicans.
Despite Connecticut Democrats’ general embrace of absentee voting, lower percentages of voters in the state’s major cities — which generally lean Democratic — have requested and successfully returned their absentee ballots to their town clerk offices, according to a CT Mirror analysis.
New Haven, Waterbury, New London, Bridgeport and Hartford were in the bottom five for voter turnout state-wide in 2016.
Lower rates of absentee ballot use overall in these cities have resulted in partisan splits that are less pronounced. In Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and Waterbury, registered Democrats led Republicans by only 1 to 4 percentage points in the use of absentee ballot voting.
The data is aggregated from a central voter registration database maintained by the office of the Secretary of the State, which also powers the state’s ballot lookup tool. Voters who have mailed in their ballots but do not see acknowledgement of receipt on the portal can see how many others may be in the same position by entering in the Mirror’s dropdown tool above the date their applications were processed by their respective town clerk’s offices. Voters in North Canaan are encouraged to contact the town clerk directly, Jacquier said.
The pre-election deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, Oct. 27. Connecticut also offers election-day registration on Nov. 3.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Nov. 2, though expecting town clerks to process and mail a ballot in 24 hours is unrealistic, according to the Secretary of the State’s office.
Those who have received an absentee ballot but have not submitted it to their town clerk’s office are still eligible to cast an in-person vote on election day or drop off their ballots in designated boxes until 8 p.m. on election night. Absentee ballots will be counted starting at 6 a.m. on Election Day.
This story was updated Oct. 27 at 3:30 p.m. with comment from North Canaan’s Town Clerk.
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