Would combining elections in Connecticut bring higher voter turnout?

Politics

CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — Most Connecticut cities and towns will hold municipal elections on November 5. Historically, turnout for local elections is low, with only Presidential elections attracting large percentages of voters. Would combining local and statewide elections and just voting once every other year be a good idea and increase turnout?

Turnout for municipal elections ranges between 20- 35%. In last year’s statewide gubernatorial election the turnout was about 65%. When there’s a Presidential election the turnout can exceed 75%.

Sue Larsen is the long-time Democratic Registrar of Voters in South Windsor. She’s also President of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut. She says of combining election days, “I look at the municipalities and I say they’ll probably be in favor of it because it’s a cost savings, obviously.”

But Larsen also says that by combing local and statewide elections, the ballots would become much longer, in some places two to five pages. That means people would take longer to vote, perhaps making lines longer.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill adds, “Obviously there are some down sides, the ballot would be much more confusing and longer. There are other states that are doing it and, yes, their turnout is higher.”

Merrill is quick to add that she is not proposing this but also notes that in nearby Rhode Island, they did this a long time ago and their statewide turn
out last year was about 50%, higher in the larger cities.

Just getting all the towns to have elections in November has taken years. There are still 3 Connecticut towns that hold elections in May.

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