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Inflation, reproductive rights on minds of Connecticut voters on Election Day

Voters across Connecticut went to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in a number of races.

Here's a look at what brought them to the polls.

Abortion rights on the minds of voters in hotly contested 5th Congressional District

Waterbury voters in the 5th Congressional District weighed in on the most contested race in the state.

Elizabeth Ferreira, 48, said the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion, was a big reason why she came out to vote.

"This whole Roe thing really got me upset," Ferreira said. "It just feels like men and politicians shouldn't be dictating what women should be doing with their bodies."

Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes, a former educator in Waterbury, is seeking a third term in Congress. Her Republican challenger is former state senator George Logan.

— Catherine Shen

In East Hartford, inflation is on voters' minds

Early morning voters at Hockanum Elementary School in East Hartford said they were choosing candidates who would help save democracy, stop political lies, curb inflation, increase domestic oil supply, bring down crime and support abortion rights.

For 34-year-old Hakim Agbede, that meant voting for Republican and Democratic candidates. Peter Larson, 84, said he’s been voting pretty much his whole life. And now, he’s worried democracy is in peril.

Jennifer Cuomo, 65, said it was the economy that motivated her to get out and vote. She works as a warehouse coordinator and said her 28-year-old son lives at home because he can't afford his own place.

"I would like to retire someday," Cuomo said. "But with the price of everything continuously going up, it’s hard. The food and taxes, the town taxes alone. When you have children that are still living with you and you’ve got to keep a roof over [their] head, it’s not easy."

Shannon Merrick, 43, said it was abortion rights that drove her to the polls.

"The right to choose. I think everyone has a right to choose and especially they shouldn’t be told what they can and can’t do with their own bodies," Merrick said.

Joseph Landry, a dispatcher at a transportation company, said inflation was the key issue for him this election. He wants the U.S. to drill for oil to help lower gas prices.

—Sujata Srinivasan

Norwalk voters reflect on voting access and the state of America's democracy

There’s a statewide ballot question regarding early voting on the ballot. In Norwalk, Mario Dobles, a 69-year-old Latinx voter, said he wants to see more flexibility in U.S. elections. He’s originally from Costa Rica where he said elections are held on Sundays.

"In other countries they take time," Dobles said. "People ... don't need to go to work or anything, it's dedicated for voting. And the United States we don't do that."

Currently, Connecticut is one of only a handful of states that does not offer early in-person voting.

Mary Beth Procaccini, 66, said a perceived threat to United States democracy motivated her to cast a ballot today. "I watched Jan. 6 live," she said. "I kept thinking I was watching a really horrible movie ... because I couldn't believe that this could happen in my country."

"I couldn't believe that people could be so diluted by lies," Procaccini said. "I don't ever want to see anything like that again."

—Camila Vallejo

Voters in New Haven voice concerns over reproductive rights, democracy, crime

New Haven Voters Cast Ballots in 2022 Election
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
A voter checks in at the New Haven Hall of Records polling place on Election Day. By 5 p.m., nearly half the registered voters for the district had cast ballots, which poll workers said is high turnout for a midterm election.

Will Polsky voted at New Haven City Hall Tuesday morning.

He said top issues on his mind include reproductive rights – and he says he’s worried about people who’ve denied election results.

“Not really thinking in terms of party but in terms of country, right?” Polsky said. “I just want policies that benefit my fellow Americans and make sure we have a strong democracy and institutions that protect people.”

Mitch Kochanski moved to New Haven a year and a half ago and registered to vote Tuesday morning at New Haven City Hall.

“All said and done it took me 45 minutes to register and vote this morning,” Kochanski said. “That’s not bad, pretty good. I’m grateful to live in a modern democracy, despite what some people say.”

Connecticut allows same-day registration at one central location in each municipality – that lets a voter register and vote in person on Election Day as long as they meet eligibility requirements.

Claire Sullivan cast her ballot in New Haven. She said she got up early to vote to exercise her civic duty. She said the election is one of the most important in her lifetime.

"I think I’m primarily concerned with the attack on women’s health and reproductive justice and I think I’m just generally concerned about the attacks on democracy as well," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said voting was quick and efficient — and that there were enough poll workers to help voters.

Koulako Konate was on her way to her neighborhood polling place after getting information about where to vote at New Haven City Hall. She said she wanted to see change when it comes to drugs and crime. She’s concerned about drugs in neighborhoods, as well as guns and shootings.

"It scares me," she said. "I have children, a little one, 14 years old, 17, it’s so scary. I’m not safe for myself. If they could find the issues to fix that, that would be wonderful."

—Katie Pellico

Voting ran smoothly, local officials say

Election 2022
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
At the Armory in Torrington, a tabulator ceased functioning for a short time. Polling place moderator Garrett Waldron speculated that it was a mechanical failure. A second tabulator was immediately brought in and set up. "It was no different from 5:45 when I do it in the morning, just a different time of day for me," Waldron said. A line of voters with completed ballots in hand began to snake through the room as this setup process took place. Despite the tabulator being down for a matter of five minutes, voting was never suspended. All voters waiting in line had the option to place their ballots in the tabulator's auxiliary slot to be hand counted later. However, almost all voters decided to wait for the machine count to resume.

Local election officials said things ran smoothly in cities across Connecticut on Tuesday, despite some minor hiccups.

In New Britain, an electronic system that tracked turnout briefly went offline Tuesday morning. Republican Registrar Peter Gostin said the glitch didn’t affect voting because workers also sign people in by hand at the polls.

“All the bugaboos and everything else have pretty much sorted themselves out, outside of this one little electronic technical issue,” he said. “But other than that, things are running pretty smoothly now.”

In Hartford, Democratic Registrar Giselle Feliciano said workers dealt with sporadic issues with older voting machines.

“We've had a couple of jams here and there with the old tabulators,” she said. “But we have our troubleshooters that go out there and, and do what they have to do to make sure that all the ballots are going through correctly.”

Feliciano expected about half of Hartford's 63,000 registered voters to cast ballots this election.

— Jim Haddadin

Our earlier Election Day coverage:

Secretary of the State provides early update on voter turnout so far

Based on preliminary turnout numbers from more than half of the towns in Connecticut, there was especially high turnout reported in Deep River, Eastford, Greenwich, Lyme, Morris, Newtown, and Prospect. In each of those communities, more than 30% of registered voters had cast ballots, according to the Secretary of the State's office. That included both absentee ballots, and in person voting.

Connecticut election officials said voting went well overall.

—Matt Dwyer and Jeff Cohen

Voting weather forecast: Sunny skies

 Election Day Nov 08 2022
Tony Spinelli
Connecticut Public
Supporters of Gov. Ned Lamont cheer as he approaches them outside Greenwich High School on Nov. 8, 2022.

After several days of highs in the 70s, Tuesday brought more seasonable temperatures.

"The stretch of late-summer weather is over, and Election Day will feel like we expect," Connecticut Public meteorologist Garett Argianas said. "Highs will be in the mid-50s with mostly sunny skies and a cool breeze. The weather won’t cause problems for those voting."

Issues at the polls? Here's a hotline

A hotline was set up to take reports from people who have difficulties casting a ballot.

The hotline was set up by the Secretary of the State's office, the State Elections Enforcement Commission, and law enforcement agencies.

Call 1-866-733-2463 or send an e-mail to elections@ct.gov.

Most absentee ballots have been submitted, officials say

New Haven Voters Cast Ballots in 2022 Election
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
Poll worker Kashmir Keen feeds absentee ballots into a tabulator at the New Haven Hall of Records. Election officials started counting absentee ballots that came in before Friday around noon — and will count absentee ballots that came over the weekend when the polls close after verifying that no voters cast both an absentee and in-person ballot.

Officials said as of Monday afternoon, more than 75% of requested absentee ballots had been returned to the Connecticut Secretary of the State's office. Over 66,000 registered Democrats returned their ballots as of Monday, compared to nearly 32,000 unaffiliated voters, and 24,000 registered Republicans. All absentee ballots must be received by the time polls close tonight at 8.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 141,000 absentee ballots had been returned. That compares to 2018, the last time there was a gubernatorial election, when about 88,000 absentee ballots were returned, the Connecticut Mirror reported.

What’s on the ballot?

 Election Day Nov 08 2022
Tony Spinelli
Connecticut Public
Gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski leaves Polson Middle School in Madison after casting his ballot with his wife and daughters on Election Day.

In the race for governor, incumbent Democrat Ned Lamont faced Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski and Independent Party candidate Rob Hotaling. For Stefanowski, it was a rematch against Lamont. In 2018, Stefanowski lost by 3.2 percentage points or about 40,000 votes.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal faced Republican challenger Leora Levy. Blumenthal was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and previously served as Connecticut’s attorney general. Levy is a GOP fundraiser and former commodities trader.

In the 5th Congressional district, Democrat Jahana Hayes faced GOP challenger and former state senator George Logan. It’s a race that’s attracted national attention and could help decide which party gets the majority in Congress.

Voters cast their 2022 midterm election ballots in the early hours of Tuesday at Tyrell Middle School in Wolcott, CT.
Greg Miller
Connecticut Public
Jahana Hayes arrives to cast her ballot early on Nov. 8, 2022, at Tyrrell Middle School in Wolcott, Conn. Hayes was locked in a tightly contested race with opponent George Logan, a former state senator, for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. All five of the Connecticut’s congressional districts were on the ballot, along with high-profile contests for governor, U.S. Senate, statewide candidates for constitutional office and dozens of General Assembly seats.

A number of other Congressional seats and statewide offices were also on the ballot, including attorney general, treasurer, comptroller, and secretary of the state.

There was a statewide ballot question regarding early voting. The question on early voting was placed on the ballot’s right-hand side:

“Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Connecticut is one of only a handful of states that does not offer early in-person voting. In other states, early voting laws let ballots be cast anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before an election at designated polling spots. People who support early voting say it gives people more flexibility to vote.

Many municipalities also had their own ballot questions that will vary by town. Here is a list of ballots by town.

Election LOGAN
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
George Logan and his team have lunch at Hometown Pizza in Litchfield, Conn., on Nov. 8, 2022, while responding to supporters.

Connecticut Public's Cassandra Basler, Jennifer Ahrens and Eric Aasen contributed to this report.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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