State officials expecting record turnout for presidential primary (CT)
Boston Globe, February 5, 2008
HARTFORD, Conn.óConnecticut election officials expected a record voter turnout for the state's presidential primary.
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Connecticut was one of 22 states holding primaries or caucuses on what is being billed as "Super Tuesday."
Polls in Connecticut opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday and were to remain open until 8 p.m. Turnout records could be broken, according to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz.
Turnout was steady at a polling place in Milford, Conn., where psychology professor Tony Lemieux, 32, said he watched all of the Democratic debates before ultimately settling on Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"At the end of the day,that inspirational quality that Obama is bringing into this is really nice and frankly refreshing," he said. "It's a close call. My wife voted for Hillary. We're splitting the delegates, at least in our house."
On the Republican side, Realtor Lalia Perna, 34, voted for Mitt Romney but would have preferred former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who dropped out of the race. She said she liked Romney's position on tax cuts.
"I liked that he has a lot of experience in the private sector," she said. "I wasn't excited to vote for him, but I thought he was the best choice."
Self-employed graphic designer Bob Tyrrell, 50, was another Giuliani supporter who voted for Romney, saying that Arizona Sen. John McCain leans toward big government.
Though he is a Republican, he said that if he woke up the day after Election Day and Obama was president, he wouldn't have any regrets, "but Hillary, I might just throw up. Hillary has socialist impulses and that would be a disaster to a big, rich country like ours."
Bysiewicz predicted voter turnout close to 50 percent -- higher than the 43.3 percent turnout for the closely watched 2006 Senate Democratic matchup between Sen. Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont.
From Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, more than 34,000 new voters registered. More than 17,500 became Democrats and 6,300 registered to vote in the GOP primary.
Some 13,000 previously unaffiliated voters switched to the Democratic Party while 3,600 unaffiliated voters registered with the GOP, Bysiewicz said.
Joshua Machnik, a Manchester resident who voted Tuesday morning at the Manchester Senior Citizen Center, said he was excited about the race.
Machnik, who voted for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, said he was nervous because his candidate "is trailing a little bit. I'm excited because I'm out here voting."
There was also a glitch. A new optical scanning machine did not work and voters had to put their ballots in an auxiliary slot to be counted later.
Adam Joseph, a spokesman for Bysiewicz's office, said most of the calls coming in to the Secretary of State's office early Tuesday were requests seeking the location of polling places.
Joseph said there had been no reports of machine problems during the first two hours that the polls were open.
Obama and Clinton pushed Connecticut to center stage on the eve of the Super Tuesday primary, rallying supporters to bolster their campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Their stops -- Obama with a rousing nighttime rally in Hartford that drew more than 15,000 people and Clinton with a morning round-table chat about child poverty in New Haven -- underscored the state's importance in what's expected to be a fiercely fought campaign.
Polls in November put Connecticut strongly in Clinton's corner, but Tuesday's vote was expected to be close.