Huge number of Wilton voters apply for absentee ballots

Samples of the Wilton Democratic and Republican ballots for the Presidential Preference Primary on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Samples of the Wilton Democratic and Republican ballots for the Presidential Preference Primary on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Contributed photo

WILTON — On paper, the Democratic and Republican presidential preference primaries on Aug. 11 appear to be a snoozefest, with the race pretty much winnowed down to Joe Biden (D) and Donald Trump (R).

But voters are taking an active interest in the races, as evidenced by the number of absentee ballot applications the town clerk’s office has received to date.

As of Friday, July 17, the town clerk’s office had received 1,087 absentee ballot requests from Democratic voters, and 451 absentee ballot requests from Republican voters.

Compare those numbers to four years ago, when the primary was held on April 26, 2016. At that time, just 168 Democrats and 94 Republicans in Wilton voted by absentee ballot (including ballots received from overseas).

But this year, Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order allowing all registered voters to vote absentee in the primary due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And it appears many voters are taking him up on that offer.

The Democratic ballot has four choices for the presidential nomination: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and Uncommitted.

The Republican ballot has three choices for the presidential nomination: Donald J. Trump, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, and Uncommitted.

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Biden currently has 2,563 pledged delegates, more than the 1,991 needed to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.

Trump currently has 2,171 pledged delegates, more than the 1,276 needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

26th District

There is also a second primary on the Republican ballot. Kim Healy and William Duff are facing off for the 26th District state Senator nomination.

The 26th District serves the towns of Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton and parts of Westport, Weston, New Canaan and Bethel.

Healy of Wilton is a CPA and treasurer of the Wilton Library Association. She was the candidate endorsed by the Republican convention back in May. Duff is a former state representative from Bethel.

The winner will face Democratic incumbent state Senator Will Haskell.

The election is being held Nov. 3.

All eligible Connecticut voters — registered Republicans and Democrats, but not unaffiliated voters — were mailed absentee ballot applications after the July Fourth weekend, although polling places will still be open for in-person voting on Aug. 11.

Residents who want to vote by absentee ballot rather than going to the polls must complete the application for an absentee ballot and mail it to the town clerk. Absentee ballots will then be mailed beginning July 21 to all who submitted applications.

Upon receiving the official absentee ballot, these steps must be followed:

A. Complete the absentee ballot by filling in the oval next to your choice using a black pen.

B. Insert the completed ballot into the B inner envelope, seal and sign it.

C. Put it in the outer envelope.

The completed ballot can be mailed to the town clerk or deposited in an official ballot box which is expected to be set up soon outside the Wilton police station, where the box can be monitored.

While it is too late for people in one political party to switch to another and still vote in the primary — May 11 was the deadline for that — new voters or unaffiliated voters can still join a party and participate in its Aug. 11 primary.

New voter registration deadlines are Aug. 6 — by mail or online — and Aug. 10 by noon, in person.

Unaffiliated voters may enroll in a party by Aug. 6 — by mail — or by Aug. 10, by noon in person.

Registrars of Voters Annalisa Stravato (R) and Karen Birck (D), are holding a special voter enrollment session at Wilton Town Hall on Tuesday, July 28, between noon and 2 p.m. Unaffiliated voters may also use this time to join a political party if they wish to participate in the Aug. 11 primary election.

For the Aug. 11 primaries, all three polling places in Wilton will be open from 6 a.m to 8 p.m.

• District 1 votes at Wilton High School Clune Center.

• District 2 votes at Cider Mill School cafeteria (enter to the left of the main door to the school).

• District 3 votes at Middlebrook School cafeteria (enter under the canopy at the rear of the school).

The location of the polling places within Cider Mill and Middlebrook schools have changed. “Cider Mill School used to have voting in the gym but it’s not air conditioned,” said Birck.

Instead, voting at Cider Mill will be held in the cafeteria. Voting will also be held in the Middlebrook School cafeteria. There will be signs directing voters to the correct locations.

Each polling place will have separate lines for Democratic and Republican voters.

A number of safety precautions are being taken at the polls:

Polling places will be cleaned throughout the day. Poll workers will be wearing masks, face shields and gloves and will be working behind a plexiglass shield.

Voters can hold their IDs up to the plexiglass shield so the checker can see it but not touch it.

There will be no pens in the voting booths. Instead, each voter will be given a pen and asked to return it to a box at the exit. Those pens will be sanitized for use in the next election. No voter will touch a pen that was touched by another person.

There will not be any bathroom facilities open to voters.

Hand sanitizer and wipes will be available at the exit.

To prevent any chance of infection, there will not be any “I Voted” stickers given out this year.

The registrars said next week they are going to make a video at each polling place to show people what to expect there.

With so many people opting to vote by absentee ballot there will be fewer workers at the polls. “We are confident we can keep the lines moving,” the registrars said.

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