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Monday, November 20 News

Election Day: Turnout in Fairfield slow on election day

FAIRFIELD — Voter turnout for a municipal election that doesn’t feature a top of the ticket was running close to that in 2013, according to town officials.

A chart tracking the hourly turnout on the Registrar of Voters web page was taken down in the afternoon, when it ended up being a disruption for office staff, Democratic Registrar of Voter Matt Waggner said.

“The political parties were calling so much we had a majority of office staff responding to their inquiries about turnout,” Waggner said. “Since it wasn’t serving the original purpose — to reduce disruption — I suspended the collection in the afternoon.”

To see the most recent numbers, users simply had to hit the refresh button on their computer to see the updates. Waggner joked that he was thinking of offering a class before the next election to avoid this problem.

“Anecdotally, turnout appears to be on par with 2013 levels,” Waggner said.

In 2013, 10,775 votes were cast, a turnout of 29.95 percent.

“It’s a little busier than an off year, locally,” Democratic Registrar of Voters Matthew Waggner said.

Though same-day registration is often a popular process during a presidential election year, the same does not appear to hold true for local elections.

According to Waggner, four people had registered and voted at Old Town Hall Tuesday.

“People who are interested in this election are normally already registered,” he said.

The first selectman, and the Board of Selectmen, are not on the ballot this year, and won’t be up for election until 2019. This year, the outcomes in most of the races for seats on town boards are not in doubt. Because of minority representation regulations, the political parties usually don’t put up more candidates than the number of seats they can win.

The Representative Town Meeting is the one town body where that minority representation requirement does not come into play. Each district has four members.

For the 2015-17 term, Republicans held a slim two-seat majority on the legislative body and are guaranteed to pick up at least one more seat in District 4.

That’s because just one week before Election Day, it was discovered that Democrat Jennifer Hochberg-Toller, an incumbent on the ballot, had moved out of town last year. Despite moving to Bridgeport in August 2016, after getting married a few months earlier, Hochberg-Toller continued to serve on the RTM — and cast votes — and accept the party’s nomination earlier this summer.

When the residency issue was discovered, she withdrew from the ballot and resigned from the RTM. However, it was too late for the Democratic Town Committee to replace Hochberg-Toller on the ballot. DTC leaders said they were unaware that Hochberg-Toller had moved.

Republican Town Committee Chairman James Millington has filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

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