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Voter guide: What to know for CT's September 2023 primary

FILE: Voters fill out their ballots November 08, 2022, at the Manchester High School polling station.
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
FILE: Voters fill out their ballots November 08, 2022, at the Manchester High School polling station.

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Cities and towns across Connecticut are hosting a primary on Sept. 12, including races for mayor in three of the state’s biggest communities.

The races will determine who will run in the general elections in November.

Ballots will vary depending on where you live. Registered voters should double-check their polling location before voting.

Here's what you need to know for primary day.

When are polls open?

Polls in Connecticut are open Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Any elector still standing in line at the polls at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Where do I vote?

Registered voters can look up their polling place here.

Am I allowed to vote in a primary election?

You must be registered with a political party to vote in that party’s primary election.

Can unaffiliated voters register with a party to vote?

Yes. But only if they have been unaffiliated for at least three months.

I would like to register to vote. What should I do?

There are several options and deadlines for registration.

  • Register online by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7
  • Register at the DMV by the close of business on Thursday, Sept. 7
  • Register in-person with the Registrar of Voters or with the Town clerk by noon on Monday, Sept. 11.
  • Note, if someone is registered as an unaffiliated voter (registered to vote, but not enrolled in a political party) noon on Monday, Sept. 11, is also the deadline to enroll in a party to vote in the primary. That registration can only be done with the Registrar of Voters, according to the Secretary of the State's office.

You can also register by mail. For unregistered (new) voters mailed registrations must be postmarked by Thursday, Sept. 7. For unaffiliated voters wanting to change party designation, mailed registrations must be received by the Registrar of Voters by Thursday, Sept. 7.

Does Connecticut have primary day voter registration?

No. There is no primary day registration in Connecticut.

Is a photo ID required to vote?

No. Instead of presenting ID, voters can, in most cases, sign an affidavit when poll workers ask for ID. The identification does not need to be a driver’s license. It also does not need to have a photo. Here is a detailed list of Connecticut’s in-person voter ID requirements.

How do I vote by absentee ballot?

Absentee ballots are allowed for the primary. People can apply in-person at the local Town Clerk’s office or online. Connecticut law allows for absentee voting due to illness, physical disability, religious reasons, active military service and other qualifying reasons.

Ballots are subject to different deadlines depending on how they are returned. If returned in-person by the voter to the Town Clerk, the deadline is Monday, Sept. 11. If returned to a drop box or mailed, ballots are due by Tuesday, Sept. 12, by close of polls. Ballots returned in person by a qualified designee of an ill or physically disabled applicant must be received by Tuesday, Sept. 12, by the close of polls.

What are some of the major races?

Three big cities in Connecticut – Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven – are hosting primaries for mayor. In Hartford, there’s a three-way Democratic primary race to fill an open seat left by departing Mayor Luke Bronin.


In Bridgeport, two-term incumbent mayor Joe Ganim, who was sent to federal prison for corruption charges following his first stint as mayor in the 90s and early 2000s, is the Democratic Party’s nominee. Ganim first retook his four-year seat as mayor back in 2015.

Ganim is running against John Gomes, his former aide, in the Democratic primary. State Sen. Marilyn Moore, whom Ganim narrowly defeated in the 2019 primary, and Lamond Daniels, who used to work for former Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, worked to qualify for the mayoral primary, but did not.


The departure of Democratic Mayor Luke Bronin has left an open seat in this heavily Democratic city. The Sept. 12 primary is expected to be the vote that essentially decides the city’s next mayor, but there will be a Republican challenger in the November election.

Arunan Arulampalam received the nomination of the city’s Democratic party in July. Arulampalam, 37, has never held public office before, but told Connecticut Public he brings unique management experience as a former deputy commissioner in the Lamont administration and as the current CEO of the Hartford Land Bank.

"I think I'd be ready to serve on day one," Arulampalam said. "Voters in this city are looking for new voices and new ideas."

Arulampalam is up against state Sen. John Fonfara, who was initially elected to the state’s General Assembly in 1986. Fonfara told Connecticut Public his experience will help Hartford address problems in education, poverty and the economy.

"My experience and my relationships in the legislature ... don't end because I'm not there as a member," Fonfara said.

Former state Sen. Eric Coleman, a retired Superior Court judge who served in the General Assembly for decades, told Connecticut Public Hartford's next mayor needs elected experience before seeking the city's highest political office.

"All of the insight and experience that I acquired serving in the state legislature is immediately transferable to the duties and responsibilities of a mayor," Coleman said.

New Haven

Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker, who is running for a third term, will face Democratic challenger Liam Brennan, a legal aid attorney and former federal prosecutor who took on ex-Gov. John Rowland in a 2014 corruption trial that led to Rowland’s second stint in federal prison.

Elicker, who defeated former Mayor Toni Harp in 2019, cites his accomplishments leading the city through the COVID-19 pandemic and his work improving the city's finances, including getting Yale University to pay more money to the city.

"I hope people recognize the work that my team and I have done to help support New Haven ... and also be real with people about the challenges that lie ahead," Elicker told Connecticut Public. "Ultimately, this election boils down to experience and that's the clear difference beween myself and the other candidate."

Brennan cites his experience working as an attorney on economic and housing issues in New Haven and as an inspector general investigating police misconduct in Hartford. He says he has ideas for how to wrestle with boosting property taxes in New Haven, where over half the town's real estate value was reported to be off tax rolls earlier this year. One thought? He wants Yale to pay even more to the city.

"I would like to get more money out of them. I think they owe more money to the city," Brennan told Connecticut Public. "But I think we should really be creative in thinking of new ways to do that. So if we're taxing sales, or we're taxing income, that also can come from those same people that make up Yale, but in different ways."

This story was originally published on Aug. 29 and has been updated. Connecticut Public’s John Henry Smith, Frankie Graziano, Cassandra Basler and Matt Dwyer contributed to this report.

Note: Arunan Arulampalam's father-in-law is Gregory B. Butler, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Connecticut Public.

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 at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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