In just 90 minutes, the absentee ballots started to stack up inside the dropbox at Avon’s town hall.
“In 2016, we had a large number of absentee ballots but nothing compared to this,” said Nick Hogan, Avon’s assistant town clerk.
So far, 5,500 absentee ballots have been requested and 4,200 were turned in to the town.
Janet Miller dropped off her ballot in the box on Monday. She wanted to vote in person but ultimately decided to vote absentee.
“I didn’t want to stand in line for safety reasons. This is the first time I’ve ever voted absentee,” she said.
In nearby Canton, two-thirds of the 3,000 absentee ballots requested have been returned, according to the town clerk.
To request an absentee ballot you have to be registered to vote by midnight the Tuesday before Election Day. You can do so online or by filling out your voter registration card in person at your local town hall.
“It’s a higher level of identification needed just to register. You have to have your social security number with you, [or] you have something that shows that you live at that address, you have to have preferably a CT driver’s license or some sort of ID,” explained Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
There are close to 2.3 million Connecticut residents registered to vote in the 2020 general election. In 2016, there were just over 2.1 million registered voters. Merrill said turnout that year was 75% and she expects it to reach even higher this November.
Voter Registration Breakdown:
- 2016: 810,136
- 2020: 845,665
- 2016: 467,687
- 2020: 476,045
“I think there’s going to be more. It’s not over yet either. We have about a week to go,” said Merrill.
Out of the roughly 660,000 absentee ballots requested statewide, about 456,000 have been returned so far. Merrill said that indicates upwards of 50% of registered voters in Connecticut will vote by absentee this year, compared to the five to eight percent experienced in most previous elections.
"We knew it was going to be big and it is big,” she said. “I think it’s a great thing. We always bemoan the fact that people aren’t voting and that there’s voter apathy. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about voter apathy this year."
Absentee Ballots Returned:
- Democrats: 233,000
- Republicans: 68,000
- Unaffiliated: 149,000
"It's a critical election, absolutely. Such contrasting viewpoints and positions" said Meredith Colket of Avon. “It’s more interesting and it just seems more comfortable to actually get in there and put your ballot in.”
Colket never misses the chance to vote in person and he wasn't going to let COVID-19 keep him from voting that way this year.
“My back has been acting up and I'm afraid of long lines at the polling station so I changed my mind,” said Colket.
There's still about a thousand absentee ballots that were requested in Avon that have not been returned.
"Some are getting it and still planning to go to the poll but they have it just in case they decide they don't want to go,” said Hogan.
If you plan to bring your absentee ballot to your polling place as a back-up, think again. Poll workers are not allowed to accept them. Instead, you'll have to make an extra stop at the dropbox outside your local city or town hall.
"It will get counted. It will just get counted a little later," said Merrill.
Absentee ballots received either by mail or in the dropbox on election day by law cannot be counted until after the polls close at 8 p.m.
On Oct. 30, outer absentee ballot envelopes will be opened, which means you have until this Friday, not Election Day like previous years, to let your local registrar know that you do not want your mail-in ballot counted because you've changed your mind about voting in person.
"If you have cast your absentee ballot, you are done. But you know, you have to remember an election is always a moment in time. Things happen right on Election Day and it's too late for everybody to change their mind at that point," said Merrill.