Darien leaders says turnout is key in Tuesday's election
The energy surrounding Election Day on Tuesday is palpable.
"I think Democrats in town are definitely energized from the top of the ticket with Gov. (Dannel P.) Malloy and Congressman Jim Himes, all the way down to the Board of Education candidates," said Randy Klein, the chairman of the Democratic Town Committee. "We have been working hard on that effort of getting out the vote because I am a firm believer that you run like you're 10 points behind and you do that until it's 8:01 p.m. on election night."
Historically, Darien voters have favored Republican candidates. During an event at the Wee Burn Country Club in 2013, where Kerry Kennedy, of the famous clan of Democratic politicians, was the keynote speaker, an audience member joked that being a Democrat in Darien requires bravery.
The key for success in this year's election, according to Klein and Republican Town Committee Chairman Jim Palen, is voter turnout. According to Kathy Hammell, Democratic Registrar of Voters, the average turnout for an "off-year" -- not a presidential election -- is about 66 percent of registered voters in town. The highest off-year turnout was 74 percent.
This year, ballots were secured by local registrars for as much as a 90 percent voter turnout, according to Hammell.
"A lot of it will be a get out the vote," Palen said of the GOP strategy. "I think the most important aspect of the election is going to be getting the highest voter turnout we can. Within Darien, I expect all of our Republican candidates to take a majority of the vote. The key is to drive voter turnout to support our statewide candidates."
As of Oct. 29, there were 12,242 voters registered in Darien, with a large surge of registrations in October, according to Hammell. A factor may be a list of unregistered voters created by the Secretary of the State in each town, who were sent voter registration materials. As a result, 186 people in Darien registered to vote within the last month, Hammell said. On average, 30 to 40 people will register in any given month.
Latest voter enrollment data for Darien shows there are 5,829 registered Republicans and 2,280 Democrats. The remaining 4,133 is either unaffiliated or is registered to another party, according to data from the Registrars of Voters.
Election Day registration can take place Tuesday, Nov. 4, in Room 103 of Town Hall. Last year, 17 people registered to vote on Election Day.
Only 29.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots last year, but a factor may have been the uncontested race for first selectman.
However, it also was the first contested Board of Education race in Darien in several years and the outcome was close. Two Republicans and two Democrats were in the running for three seats, and for the last available seat, only 211 votes separated Democrat Callie Sullivan and Democrat Shannon Silsby, who lost out.
The situation is the same for Nov. 4: Four school board candidates, three seats. Because of the large GOP edge in voter registration, the Republicans could be perceived to have the upper hand with incumbent Republicans Michael Harman and David "Duke" Dineen, who has been on the board since Morgan Whittier resigned.
The governor's race is being closely monitored by political leaders as polls continue to indicate the rematch between Malloy and Republican Tom Foley is in a dead heat.
"I think the overwhelming feeling in town is that our current leadership has failed to take actions," Palen said. The Republicans "are going to put Connecticut back on the right path fiscally to prevent the steady decline that we've seen in the last four to five years."
Klein said he feels "really positive" about the governor's race and cited several newspaper endorsements for Malloy.
"I look at it from the top down and the leadership that the governor and Congressman Himes have given us," Klein said. "I really feel that we've seen energy from Darien Democrats that you will see translated at the polls on Tuesday. We're fortunate that we have people like Gov. Malloy and Himes who have a record of achievement; I think voters appreciate that."
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More InformationDARIEN VOTES
Tuesday, Nov. 4
6 a.m.-8 p.m.
District I (141st House District, 25th Senate District): 35 Leroy Ave.
District II (141st House District, 27th Senate District): Town Hall, 2 Renshaw Road
District III (147th House District, 25th Senate District): Noroton Heights Fire Department, 209 Noroton Ave.
District IV (141st House District, 27th Senate District): Hindley Elementary School, 10 Nearwater Lane
District V (141st House District, 25th Senate District): Town Hall, 2 Renshaw Road
District VI (141st House District, 25th Senate District): 35 Leroy Ave.