Voters Turn Out for Presidential Primary

Polls for the presidential primary opened at 6 a.m., and the nation's eyes are on Connecticut as voters cast ballots.

The Democratic and Republican contests follow several visits from four of the five major party candidates and their surrogates.

"It's really important to me that I get out here and have my voice heard," Bianca Slota, of Hartford, said.

For the Democratic candidates, 55 of the state's 71 delegates will be up for grabs. They'll be distributed mostly on a proportional basis.

The Republicans are vying for 25 of the state's 28 delegates, which will be distributed proportionally.

"I didn't know if we'd get to this point and I'd come out here more symbolically. But to know that Connecticut could actually make a difference in the total delegate count is really exciting," Slota said.

State election officials hope voter turnout will be high, given a surge in voter registration and a hotline has been set up to help voters in the case of any issues.

As of mid-day, preliminary data indicates voter turnout of 15.8 percent,  according to the Secretary of the State's Office, but more than 50 cities and towns have not reported turnout figures.

“It is too early to tell but we are hearing anecdotal reports of high activity. However, not in every part of the state. We should know more later in the day when we have more towns reporting,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said.

Voters are excited about casting votes in the election.

"Congress has been at every turn trying to impede any kind of decision making or progress, so I want a candidate who as a president is going to try to overcome that," Candace Killian, of Hartford, said.

In New Haven, voters did not let rain dampen their determination to do their civic duty.

“In this ward, people come out. They are dedicated voters and that is really wonderful. I think we have one of the highest voting wards in New Haven,” Janice Underwood, of New Haven, said.

The number of registered voters in Connecticut hit 1,970,098, Merrill said in a statement on Monday.

"We are expecting a big turnout, which all of us must be prepared for including my office and the towns. This is an exciting moment for our state and for our democracy. However, we must do our best to make sure the voters understand the differences in the rules between primaries and the general election in November. There is no primary same-day registration. That means new or unaffiliated voters will not be able to register on April 26 for the purposes of participating in the 2016 Connecticut primary," Merrill said.

Voters must be a member of the party to vote in that party's primary.

Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders among the Democratic candidates with a little more than 50-percent of likely Democratic voters, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

The poll also says Sanders has support from about 42 percent of voters, but he is winning with several key voting blocks.

Donald Trump is leading among the Republicans over Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas.

The Quinnipiac University poll shows Trump with the support of just under half of likely Republican voters today. 

Kasich comes in second with Cruz trailing nearly 10 percentage points behind him. 

Voters need to bring a driver's license, bank statement or utility bill with your name and address on it.

Anyone who encounters a problem at the polls should call the voter hotline at 866-SEEC-INFO hotline or email

The hotline and email address will be monitored between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

"We need to hear from you if something is not working as it should. Please let us know if you encounter any problems. Your vote must be counted. There is no acceptable margin for error on Election Day. None. We are grateful to the State Election Enforcement Commission for working with us on this valuable service," Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said in an email.

"We count on the public as much as we do election workers to report problems," Michael J. Brandi, executive director and general counsel of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said in a statement. "Anyone with knowledge of election fraud or voting rights abuses is encouraged to call to report suspected violations. We will have the phones fully staffed to answer questions, advise on complaint procedures and, if appropriate, request the assistance of state criminal or federal law enforcement authorities."

Voters who use the hotline can report concerns anonymously, but are asked to provide the town and polling place where the problem is occurring and provide as many details as possible.

The Secretary of the State's office and the State Election Enforcement Commission will also hold two separate conference calls during the day on Tuesday to share information about potential problems or complaints at the polls and coordinate the appropriate response.

Voters should go to to confirm that they are registered to vote, locate their polling places and check what type of identification to bring with them to the polls.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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