Amidst the pandemic, the upcoming election day could be unlike any before.
Avoiding large crowds is perhaps rule number one in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Using that as a guideline, many people in Connecticut are opting not to vote in-person this year.
In Manchester, the voting registrar said approximately 30% of voters have applied for and received absentee ballots.
“Normally in a presidential election, we see about 1,700 absentee ballots,” said Manchester Democratic Registrar of Voters Jim Stevenson. “Right now, we are running over 10,000 already applied for.”
State officials see this as a good thing, explaining that the high number of absentee voters means fewer people at polling stations.
Although lengthy lines have formed at states which have already opened for early in-person voting, Connecticut’s Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is not expecting the same on Nov. 3. Merrill said the state has not eliminated any polling stations and is ready for the volume.
Among those heading to the polls is Hartford’s Victoria Pina.
“That’s the way I’ve always done it and that’s the way I feel comfortable,” said Pina.
Not everyone, though, does feel comfortable.
“There are a lot of people who are concerned about having too much face-to-face contact and any way to reduce that, I think is important,” said absentee voter Peter Melander of Manchester.
Making in-person voting safe is something registrars say the state is making a priority.
“We will have PPE distributed throughput the polling place,” said Stevenson. “The polling place will be sanitized before the election and periodically during the election.”
Those with disabilities are also being assured they will be assisted as they normally are.
“Someone in the polling place will bring their ballot out in a privacy sleeve,” said Merrill. “They can fill it out and that will be brought back in and placed in the voting tabulator by that person."
Merrill said they’ve recruited 7,000 volunteers to help and that people should feel safe and secure if they’re going to vote in person.
“We’ve taken care of a lot of the health concerns and I think they can feel good about coming out to a polling place this year,” she said.