I vote for everyone who helped make yesterday’s elections run smoothly.
Town officials in the registrars’ and town clerk’s offices; volunteers at the polling places; League of Women Voters members who handed out non-partisan information; the behind-the-scenes custodial, maintenance and administrative folks wherever votes were cast; Staples High School students who greeted voters and passed out,= “I Voted” stickers; police officers who were ready in case there were any issues … anyone who had a hand in making sure democracy worked yesterday: thank you.
No matter the outcome, you won.
A soothingly familiar scene, year after year in Westport.
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For local candidates, it’s the end of a long slog. They’ve created and mailed campaign literature, knocked on doors, and put up (and replaced) road signs.
For voters, it’s a quick but important chore. We head to oour polling place, fill in some circles, buy baked goods to support the PTA, and leave.
For poll workers though, it’s a work day.
The men and women who check voters in (and cross check their names), hand out and collect ballots, and make sure nothing improper happens, are important, if barely noticed, parts of the democratic process.
For many workers, sure, it’s a chance to see friends and meet strangers. Yes, they get paid. (Though probably not enough.)
Still, it’s tedious and repetitive.
So when you vote on November 5, thank every poll worker you see.
They get every vote for Unsung Heroes.
A soothingly familiar scene, year after year in Westport.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.)
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