Polling Move In New London Causes Confusion

Nov 6, 2012

Two polling places in Connecticut had to be moved for election day because of the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, the switch may have affected turnout in at least one case.

Bridgeport and New London were the two towns that had to move a long-established polling place – in New London, the third district normally votes at Ocean Beach Park, but a ceiling collapse after the storm made the building unusable. Republican registrar of voters, Barbara Major.

Luckily, district three is our smallest district, so it wasn’t as bad as if we had to move one or two because they’re bigger districts.

In fact the switch involved about two and a half thousand voters, all of whom were redirected to the second district polling place about two miles away at Harbor School.

“The third district, the way it’s set up, ends two blocks from Harbor School. We’re six square miles for the whole city – so it’s really not that far to go. And they can get rides. If they call here, we’ll set them up with whatever headquarters, there are people giving rides, so we’ll pick them up.”

Suzanne Carp was one of those third district voters. She said the switch was well publicized.

“They did a very good job – we’ve been telling our neighbors and everybody’s been working together as we do here in New London.”

 But inside the building at Harbor School, having two districts voting together proved just a bit problematic, with voters confused about which line to join. Lynette Molitor said it could have been better organized.

 “They should have separated it, put maybe one on another floor or different building or something.”

Mike Blay was one of those who had to stand in line twice, but he said most people were patient with the confusion.

“First I went to the third district, but see, I’m in the second district. So it was kind of confusing, but you know, they just directed me once I went to the third district. So they let me know where I got to go – there wasn’t no problem there!”

By the afternoon, the New London registrar’s office said that turnout was greatly lower in the third district than in districts one and two. In Bridgeport by contrast, poll workers said they were seeing a brisk turnout in their relocated polling station, which was walking distance from the original site.

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.