Use of absentee ballots leads to low in-person turnout at polls for primaries

Published on Tuesday, 11 August 2020 20:18


Election days are often known for long lines at polling places, but that wasn’t the case locally for Tuesday’s primary election as the coronavirus pandemic led many voters to cast absentee ballots.

The polls at Bristol Eastern High School were completely empty early Tuesday afternoon, with just three employees awaiting voters. The location’s moderator said she was unable to answer questions about turnout. Bristol residents had the opportunity to vote in the presidential primary as well as the Republican primary for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District.

Tom and Donna Baran said they weren’t concerned coming out to vote in person as they arrived at Eastern to vote.

“I love the freedom to come out and vote,” Tom Baran said. “The freedom, it’s safe, I don’t believe there’s anything to fear.”

New Britain voters were choosing the Democratic nominee for state Assembly District 24 between Manny Sanchez and Richard Lacourciere. The Graham Apartments on Martin Luther King Boulevard in New Britain, among the smallest polling location in the city, had 31 voters show up by mid-afternoon.

“We’re mostly self-contained [to the apartment complex], mostly this building and the next building,” moderator Erv Dworkin said. “This is one of the lighter polling places, but one aspect that I see here is that many of our people are older and they make the effort to come.”

Dworkin expected the turnout would double by the time the polls closed, but the turnout was about half the normal amount for a primary election. She attributed the low turnout at the polls to a large increase in absentee voting due to the pandemic.

“I think it’s sad,” Tom Baran said. “They said 20 or 30 percent of people did absentee ballots, where’s the rest of everybody?”

Moderators expected if an increase in voters were to come, it would happen at the end of the day as people finished work for the day.

“Turnout has been very light,” said Larry Campagnana, moderator at Roosevelt Middle School in New Britain. “Right now we’re between 50 and 75 voters, very light.”

Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Tuesday, 11 August 2020 20:18. Updated: Tuesday, 11 August 2020 20:21.