Tag Archives: Election Day

Unsung Heroes #72

When you and I go to the polls next Tuesday*, we’ll zip in and out of there in a few minutes.

It’s a wonderful ritual: We exercise a right countless Americans have fought and died for. We buy coffee and cookies to support the PTA. Then we’re gone, to take care of our usual business.

But Election Day doesn’t just happen.

It works like clockwork** only because of the hard work of dozens of men and women.

We see some of them: the poll workers — Democrats and Republicans — who spend 14 hours sitting at a table, methodically checking (and double-checking) every voter who comes in.

A soothingly familiar scene, year after year in Westport.

They solve problems. They thank us for voting. And they do it thoroughly, professionally, and with great good humor.

Their own spouse might come in. The routine does not vary. “ID, please,” they say.

They’re aided by ballot watchers. It’s mind numbing. They stare intently as voter after voter walks up, pushes a ballot into the machine, and leaves.

Some folks need help. Others need reassurance that their vote will be counted. Hour after after, the ballot watchers are there.

Of course, the backbone of the operation is the Registrar of Voters office. There’s a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes. Republicans and Democrats work side by side to make it happen.

Registrars of both parties work together to enroll new voters.

So next Tuesday, when you vote***, take an extra second or two to thank all the often-anonymous, always-conscientious, vitally important people who make it happen.

You might even buy them a coffee or cookie.

* You are voting, right?!

** In Westport, anyway

*** Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.!

Vote! But Where? And When?

In the days leading up to Connecticut’s primary election this month, I did not receive my usual postcard reminding me when and where to vote.

That’s important information. In addition to voting day coming in the middle of summer — when one day slides into the next — my polling place has changed twice. First it was Saugatuck Elementary School. Then it was the Westport Library. Now — with renovation underway — I vote at Town Hall.

But I googled that info on my own, the day before the election.

I figured my postcard got lost in the mail.

In fact, there were no postcards.

Alert “06880” reader — and noted journalist/author Andrée Aelion Brooks, who spent 18 years with the New York Times — writes:

Westport and surrounding towns no longer send out postcards confirming the resident’s polling station and date of the election. This came to my attention after the primary last week, when many neighbors and friends said they did not vote because they were unaware it was the right date for Connecticut.

I contacted the Registrar of Voters, and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. Apparently the town saves money this way, and they do not believe cards are needed any longer.

This is not true. And it will depress voter turnout, especially in communities where residents rely even more on this low-tech method of reminders.

If this is a statewide issue, perhaps it can be solved at the state level. If it is a local issue, perhaps we can muster some awareness of the need for change.

Vote For The Doughboy

Alert “06880” reader Fred Cantor writes:

The other day, my wife Debbie and I came out of the Westport Historical Society “Talk of the Town” exhibit.

Facing us was a beautiful New England scene: the Doughboy statue on Veterans Green, with spectacular fall foliage behind it. It could have easily appeared on one of those New Yorker covers decades ago.

Doughboy statue - Fred Cantor

As we got closer, I saw right behind the statue another quintessential, timeless New England scene. It could also have been a New Yorker cover: a row of political signs, opposite a row of brilliant orange and yellow trees.

Election signs 2015 - Fred Cantor

(Photos/Fred Cantor)

With Election Day near, the signs in such close proximity to the Doughboy statue seemed so fitting. After all, so many American soldiers over the years gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms and rights — including the right to vote.

That right is something I have never taken for granted. Perhaps something we can all agree on — no matter where we stand on the political spectrum — is that this Tuesday, Westport residents hopefully will continue their tradition of high participation rates at the polls.

It’s Election Day. Have You Voted Yet?

People all over the world have fought — and died — for the right to vote.

They still are.

There is no excuse not to vote. None.

Especially not knowing where to cast your ballot. If you’re not sure, click here.

The polls are open until 8 p.m. But do it now!

Both the sun and Election Day signs were up early this morning, at the Westport Library polling place.

Both the sun and Election Day signs were up early this morning, at the Westport Library polling place.

 

Don’t Vote This Tuesday!

Why bother voting on Election Day?

It’s an off-year election.  Local races never matter.

Right?

  • Everyone knows the budget gets set in back-room negotiations.
  • The Board of Ed will make the same decisions about curriculum, classroom sizes, start times, standardized tests, salaries and everything else no matter who’s on it.
  • Nothing the P&Z says will stop developers and homeowners from doing what they want.
  • WTF is the RTM?

So definitely, don’t vote on Tuesday.  Far better to stay home.

And use the time writing letters to the editor (and emailing “06880”) complaining about everything that’s wrong with our elected officials.

Whether we vote or not, Westport will still be a lovely, leafy suburban community. Or an ugly, overbuilt town. (Photo/FromtheAir.com)

Ballot Questions

Westporters love national elections.  So many of us vote, in fact, we’ve won awards.

Local elections — not so much.

“Very poor” is the way Katy Goldschmidt — a former League of Women Voters president — describes turnout in non-presidential years.  Slightly less than 50 percent in years (like this one) with a first selectman race, it dips to the mid-30s every 4th year, when even that office is not up for grabs.

Perhaps attractive models in t-shirts would encourage some people to vote.

Perhaps attractive models in t-shirts would encourage some people to vote.

“Everyone has an opinion” about the underwhelming numbers, Katy says. Hers is that voters are “bombarded” with information about national elections — but “it takes extra effort to make decisions about local candidates.  People have to do the digging on their own — but they don’t.”

In addition, she says, “people don’t read newspapers anymore.  They get information in different ways.”  Groups like the LWV, she says, “have to explore how to get information about candidates to voters.”

Katy considers voting “a moral issue.”  Except for selectmen, local officials are not paid.  Voting, according to Katy, “is a way of  saying ‘thank you’  for keeping the town running well.”

And, she adds, “you’re not fulfilling your role as a citizen if you don’t vote.”

The LWV has made a concerted effort to get people to the polls.  A “My Town, My Vote” event received excellent press.  But — perhaps deterred by stormy weather — few voters showed up.

Katy was heartened that, at a recent forum, write-in candidate John Izzo said:  “Even if you don’t vote for me — get out and vote!”

“We try,” Katy said.  “We’ll keep plugging away.”

(Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.  Click here for the LWV’s Voter Guide.)