Numbers still looking good: In a town solid red for years, voter registration trend in Cheshire spikes in favor of Democrats past 5 months
(The following is an updated CDTC story published Aug. 9 prior to Connecticut Primary Election Day. This updated version reflects Cheshire voter registration numbers through mid-October)
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 becoming a numbers guy.
Recent trends indicate Democrats in Cheshire are feeling the power and he believes they won’t forget to vote on Election Day on Nov. 6.
“I’ve worked in this office for 30 years and one thing I’ve 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. 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 risen steadily in the favor of Democrats.
CHART--CHESHIRE VOTER REGISTRATION MAY TO OCTOBER
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
Oct 18 5,298 4,873 8,526 244
As you can see above, from May-July, Democratic registration increased by 27 voters while Republican registration increased by 18. But that increase paled in comparison to the huge increase in Democratic registration as the August primaries approached. From July 1 to Aug. 7, there was an increase of 64 Democrats who registered compared to only 16 Republicans. The advantage has held since then. By mid-October, there were 224 additional Democrats, compared to 160 new Republicans.
The summer increase resulted from both new registrations and a spike in the number of unaffiliated voters switching to Democrat to be eligible to vote in the August primary.
Smith recalls that applications switching from unaffiliated to party member status favored Democrats over Republicans 4-to-1 in the weeks preceding that election. Similarly, Republicans also some lost ground over the summer as voters left their party to become unaffiliated.
The deadline for eligible Connecticut citizens to register to vote in person is October 30, which is also the deadline for mail-in registrations to have arrived at the elections office. The only option for registering after that is Election Day Registration [EDR] at the Town Hall, which Smith recommends avoiding because of the complexity and longer time it takes to process the application.
“EDR is meant to be used as a last resort and to restore inactive voters, not as a convenience,” Smith said. “If you’re unregistered and are thinking about voting, register today – there’s no reason to wait and we can process your application much more quickly.”
Anyone unsure of his or her status as a voter can call the Cheshire Registrar’s office at 203-271-6680 for a swift clarification. For more information, visit the Elections Department webpage at
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 at the New Haven Register for 36 years.