Lines formed at polling places around the state before dawn on Tuesday, as people got ready to take the first opportunity in Connecticut to cast their ballots in person.
“We don’t usually have this many, this early,” said Anne Greineder, Democratic registrar of voters in Mansfield. “People may be coming early because they’re worried about lines, but we expect a large turnout.”
Many voters mentioned the ongoing pandemic as one of the motivating factors behind their vote.
In Mansfield, Frank and Lucinda Vonduntz were thinking of their family as they cast their ballots.
“We haven’t seen our grandchildren since March, some of them,” said Lucinda. “It’s very hard to be so isolated.”
“It’s texting and FaceTime on the phone,” said Frank. “We have a granddaughter up in Vermont we haven’t seen since Christmas, and we won’t see her this Christmas either. It’s rough.”
But the two said that they wanted to vote in person, despite the coronavirus, because of the uncertainty created by President Donald Trump over counting absentee ballots.
“We risked it and came here because we want our vote to be counted,” said Frank Vonduntz.
Also in Mansfield, Vicki Magley said she wants more focus on controlling the pandemic. Connecticut’s coronavirus positivity rate has risen steadily in the last month, and Gov. Ned Lamont has announced the state will roll back to Phase 2 of reopening at the end of this week. Meanwhile, several states around the nation continue to report record-high numbers of both infections and hospitalizations.
“I’m voting because of the disbelief in science and also just the general mistreatment of people, that we can’t care for our needy and our elderly with COVID.” Magley said. “It’s ridiculous that we have such a disparity in income in such a wealthy country.”
Storrs resident Andy Smith echoed those thoughts.
“The inaction of our federal government is very enraging,” he said. “I think it has resources that have not been deployed. It’s shocking to see. History’s not going to be kind on the leadership of this time.”
Nyandah Robison is a small business owner who was voting in Hartford’s Clay Arsenal neighborhood.
“I think this election is very, very important, and I must say this is the first time I’ve voted in all my years,” said Robison, who migrated from Jamaica.
She said she didn’t take politics too seriously before, but this year, she’s counting on her vote to make a difference.
“I care about people understanding that we’re all humans regardless of race, color, or where we’re from, and we should be treated as such.”
Sheryl Thomas was volunteering outside Robison’s polling place in Hartford, ready to direct voter traffic, a role she said she’s been fulfilling for 40 years.
“It’s been a big crowd, and it’s good to see so many people come out and vote,” she said. “I’ll be here all day, I'll drink my coffee and I’m good to go!”
Fellow volunteer Gordy Megget was excited to see young voters at the polls. “They’re looking for change,” he said.
In New Haven, Mark Barros said it was important to him to vote in person. He waited in line for 20 minutes at the Lincoln-Bassett Community School, even though he’s a diabetic, which makes him vulnerable should he be infected with COVID-19.
He did it to make sure his vote counted.
“I came in person because I wanted to make sure my vote was here, and when they were talking about the mail-in thing and what was going on with that -- not sure if that’s gonna work,” Barros said.
At the same polling spot, Shirley Ann Lawrence said for her, voting in person is a tradition.
“I’ve been voting since I was eligible to vote, and the one reason why I continue to vote is I’m looking for changes in the neighborhood,” she said. “I’d just like to encourage young folks to exercise your right to vote.”