In a town that was solid red for years, voter registration trend in Cheshire spiking in favor of Democrats the past 3 months
CHESHIRE – As you walk into the Cheshire Registrar of Voters office at Town Hall, one sign on the entrance door in big bold letters catches your eye as you enter – FEEL THE POWER, DON’T FORGET TO VOTE.
While the phrase is easily the mantra of any registrar in any city or town in the United States, Republican or Democrat, Cheshire Democratic Registrar Tom Smith has embraced the spirit of these words the 30 years he has worked in the registrar’s office.
Smith said he has been blessed to have a job where he constantly meets people and in the process serves the public by providing a voter-friendly experience from initiating the registration process to answering voter-related questions.
Smith also is a numbers guy.
Recent trends indicate Democrats in Cheshire are feeling the power and he believes they won’t forget to vote on Primary Day on Tuesday (Aug. 14) or on Election Day on Nov. 6.
“I have worked in this office for 30 years and one thing I learned is you can’t make people vote,” Smith said. “But voters can be motivated to get out and vote, especially if they are presented with local, state or national issues they are passionate about that make an emotional impact. Today, something out there is motivating people to register as Democrats, and motivating people to switch from Unaffiliated to Democrat, so they can vote in the primary. We’ve been busy.”
While Republicans have usually been the dominating governing party in Cheshire, in particular when it comes to a majority on the nine-person Town Council, in recent months the registration numbers have been spiking in the favor of Democrats.
CHART---CHESHIRE VOTER REGISTRATION FROM MAY TO AUG. 7
DEMOCRATS REPUBLICANS UNAFFILIATEDS OTHER
MAY 1 5,074 4,713 8,447 227
JULY 1 5,101 4,731 8,481 227
AUG. 7 5,165 4,747 8,493 232
As you can see above, from May-July, Democratic registration increased by 27 voters while Republican registration increased by 18. But that increase pales in comparison to the huge increase in Democratic registration from July 1 to Aug. 7.
From July 1 to Aug. 7, there was an increase of 64 Democrats who registered compared to only 16 Republicans.
While that increase is impressive, Smith pointed out an even more impressive trend in favor of the Democrats.
On Tuesday (Aug. 7) Smith said, “In the last two days we received 50 applications from Unaffiliateds who wanted to register with a Democratic or Republican party so they could vote in the primary. The switch favored Democrats 4-to-1.
“Cheshire was a solid red town for years. Until recently, the ratio of Democrats, Republicans and Unaffiliateds hadn’t changed much in the last three years. But in recent months, and especially as we have been getting closer to the primary (Aug. 14), there has been a constant increase in the number of registered Democrats compared to Republicans. Now, with less than a week to the primary, that increase has become a daily thing.”
Smith said another trend he has seen recently is people leaving major parties and becoming an Unaffiliated voter.
“We see people leaving parties, especially Republicans, going Unaffiliated,” Smith said. “Whenever you see a big increase in voter registration it usually means there is something impacting people and motivating them. It depends on what drives voters to the polls.
“People are unsettled now. If the discontent continues on the national level, I think you will see more Democrats registering and voting.”
The deadline for Unaffiliated voters to register with a party in person at Town Hall is Monday (Aug.13) at noon. The deadline for Unaffiliated voters to register with a party by mail, online or at DMV is Aug. 9.
If you are unsure of party affiliation or your status as a voter, call the Cheshire Registrar’s office at 203-271-6680. The staff will provide and explain a voter’s status quickly.
Remember, only voters affiliated with political parties can participate in Connecticut primaries. The deadline for switching political parties (Democrat to Republican or Republican to Democrat, etc.) has passed for the August primary.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter for the New Haven Register for 34 years.