Voting in Wilton 73 years ago

A lot has changed since 1943.

That year, the Wilton League of Women Voters published A Handbook for Voters of Wilton — a copy of which can be found in the Wilton Library History Room.

The handbook provided information on a number of election-related topics, ranging from voter eligibility and political parties to polls and ballots.

Becoming a voter


To vote in state and national elections 73 years ago, a person had to be 21 years old, a United States resident of five years, a Connecticut resident of one year, a Wilton resident of six months and be of “good moral character and able to read English," according to the handbook.

People also had to be “made” voters by presenting themselves at town hall on days announced by the selectmen, according to the handbook.

The making of voters took place on the “Saturday of the fourth week and Saturday of the third week” before the November election in even years and the “Saturday of the fourth week before the Annual Town Meeting” in odd years.

Selectmen, town clerk and registrars of voters were also in session to make voters on the last weekday preceding November or October elections for those who had reached the age of 21 or fulfilled residence requirement since the last regular day.

In 1943, voters were “made” at town hall on the last Saturday of July and September, the last weekday before the town election in October, and the last weekday before the general election in November.

Voting


In 1943, polls were open in town hall from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. for town elections, and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for state and national elections.

Up until Oct. 4, 1945, Wilton residents filled out paper ballots and dropped them into a ballot box.

A sample 1943 ballot included in the handbook shows candidates listed under Democratic, Republican, Socialist, and Socialist Labor party categories.

The ballot also features an Independent Republican Party category, but with no candidates listed.

A column on the left-hand side of the ballot allowed people to vote a “straight ticket” — voting for all candidates of a party — by placing in X mark under one of the listed parties.

Residents could file written applications to join a political party at any time, according to the handbook.

In 1943, the Wilton Democratic Town Committee consisted of 15 members and the Wilton Republican Town Committee had 30.

Representation


Seventy-three years ago, Wilton only had one representative in the House of Representatives of the General Assembly.

Two representatives weren’t allowed until the population reached 5,000. According to the 1940 Census, the 27.5-square-acre town had a population of 2,829.