The City of New London is preparing for Election Day by making plans to maintain social distancing and safety at city hall for same day registration and voting at other polling locations.
For the first time during the pandemic, New London City Hall will be opened to the public from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Voters will be able to register to vote in the lobby of city hall and then cast their ballot. Other departments in city hall will be restricted to the public.
City leaders were in the lobby of city hall Monday creating a blueprint for how the lobby will be set up next Tuesday. Their plan includes distancing, masks and capacity limits inside.
“We envision maybe three to six people at a time in the lobby going through the stations. We are going to set up tents in case the weather is not good," said Mayor Michael Passero.
The final plan for same-day registration will have to be approved by Ledge Light Health District.
During the 2016 presidential election, 399 people took advantage of the same-day registration option. Registrars are prepared for the potential of even more.
"We are doing this so that the voters and the poll workers are safe," said Passero.
Election Day comes as the City of New London is under a red alert status, experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Mayor Passero said that the most recent case report showed progress in slowing the spread of the virus.
"We are hoping to see that decline continue when we get numbers this Friday, the Friday before Election day," said Passero. "Regardless of our status, we are still going to make every effort to keep every voter safe."
Voters are reminded to bring either a license or a preprinted document showing name and address.
If voters are not comfortable voting in-person, they can still request an absentee ballot.
According to City Clerk Jonathan Ayala, the city has sent out more than 3,000 absentee ballots and has received more than 1,800 as of Monday afternoon. That is more than triple the amount of absentee ballots processed in the 2016 presidential election.
While city hall is closed, residents can call the offices and be let into the foyer one at a time to complete the process of applying for and receiving an absentee ballot.
"Give us a call. We will meet you at the door. We have a desk set up in the foyer area, you just come in and we will process the whole application and give you your ballot at that moment and you will be all set," explained Ayala. "We are doing 100% to make sure the voter has the opportunity to vote. That is the ultimate goal."
Ballots have to be received by Nov. 3 to be counted.