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Connecticut held in-person early voting for the first time. Officials say it went well

Voters cast their ballot in the 2024 Connecticut Primary at the Edgewood Creative Thinking through STEAM Magnet School polling place in New Haven. This is the first time that Connecticut has held in-person early voting. Greta LaFleur (right) said they voted “uncommitted” to voice support for a ceasefire in Gaza. They said they’ve been calling their state reps every day for the past few months, and the primary vote seems like one of the few ways to have their voice heard.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Voters cast their ballot in the 2024 Connecticut Primary at the Edgewood Creative Thinking through STEAM Magnet School polling place in New Haven. This is the first time that Connecticut has held in-person early voting. Greta LaFleur (right) said they voted “uncommitted” to voice support for a ceasefire in Gaza. They said they’ve been calling their state reps every day for the past few months, and the primary vote seems like one of the few ways to have their voice heard.

Connecticut’s first foray into in-person early voting was a success, the state’s top election official said.

Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas applauded the 18,000 voters who turned out to vote for the presidential primaries during four days of early voting in late March.

“I thought that was phenomenal,” Thomas said on Connecticut Public’s “The Wheelhouse.” “I’m so excited that we have early voting. People I met – I went around to some polling places. People were just excited.”

But towns across Connecticut need more funding for early voting for November’s general election, she said. Towns will need to prepare for higher turnout and 14 days of early voting in November. She’s asking the state legislature for millions of dollars in funding.

“I always say, someone has to fund our democracy, so it’s either the feds, the state or the towns,” she said. “But I think we get better economy of scale for a lot of items at the state level.”

Thomas is also asking for $2.5 million for an awareness campaign around early voting. She says some registered voters were completely unaware it had been introduced in Connecticut for the primaries.

Connecticut voters approved early voting in 2022. Connecticut becomes the 47th state to introduce some form of in-person early voting. The only states without it are Alabama, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, new voting machines are coming to Connecticut, but they may not arrive in time for the November election.

Last year, the state bonded $25 million to replace outdated voting machines. The secretary of the state’s office has been working to find a vendor to supply towns with new tabulators. The hope was that they’d be ready before November election.

But Thomas said that probably won’t happen.

“It’s going to depend on supply chain," she told Connecticut Public. "We still have to train registrars; we have to deploy and pick up old equipment. A November rollout seems unlikely at this date. But we may be able to do some towns.”

Connecticut Public's Chloe Wynne contributed to this report.

Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.

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