The Election Blow by Blow for Southeast Connecticut


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Against a backdrop of Republican gains in state and federal races across the country, and gains for Democrats on the state level in Connecticut, Republican Greg Howard’s victory over incumbent State Rep. Kate Rotella, D-Stonington, was the exception in southeast Connecticut, where voters largely chose to keep their incumbent representatives in Hartford.  

Howard, a popular football coach and longtime Stonington Police detective, centered his campaign on Rotella’s vote in favor of a police accountability bill in the July special session, which he called “rushed and ill-advised.” 

Democrat Christine Goupil will likely represent Clinton, Killingworth and Westbrook in the Connecticut House of Representatives after narrowly defeating Republican John Hall by an unofficial tally of 6,984 to 6,739, in a race notable in the region for long lines both as polls opened and closed.

Goupil will be the first Democrat to represent the 35th district since 2015. Republican Jesse MacLachlan held the seat for three terms, but announced in August he would not seek re-election. MacLachlan was the only Republican to vote in favor of the police accountability bill, but said that criticism of that vote from other Republicans was not why he was giving up his seat.

In the state senate races, incumbents across the region held their seats despite strong challengers in tightly-contested elections.

State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, defeated two-time Democratic challenger Robert Statchen, who also carried the Independent and Working Families party lines, by 988 votes, with an unofficial tally of 24,802 to 23,814. She will represent the Rhode Island border region from Groton to Sterling for a third term in the State Senate.

Somers was the only candidate in the region endorsed by both Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association, and focused her campaign on healthcare issues and bi-partisanship. 

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, will return to Hartford for her fourth term representing a sprawling district that stretches from Marlborough to Ledyard, where she’ll look to build on her experience as co-chair of the Appropriations Committee. 

She defeated Republican challenger Steve Weir, a political newcomer, by a vote of 25,083 to 21,557, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of the State. More than a third of Osten’s support came from Norwich, where she received 9,063 votes to Weir’s 5,078.

State Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, will return to Hartford for a second term representing much of the lower Connecticut River Valley, from Clinton to Portland. Needleman will return as chair of the Energy and Technology committee after defeating Republican challenger Brendan Saunders.

Needleman defeated Saunders with an unofficial tally of 32,147 to 27,928 – a significantly more comfortable margin than when Needleman defeated Melissa Ziobron by 85 votes in 2018.

It was the same story in races for the state house, where the remaining incumbents held their seats, leaving the total breakdown of nine state House districts at five Republicans and four Democrats:

State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, R-Waterford, will serve a fourth term in the state House after defeating Democratic challenger Baird Welch-Collins by an unofficial vote of 7,269 to 6,924 in a district that covers Waterford and part of Montville.

State Rep. Irene Haines, R-East Haddam, defeated Democratic challenger Judd Melón by an unofficial tally of 7,885 to 6,025 to earn a second term representing East Haddam, East Hampton and Colchester.

State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, held off Democratic challenger Cate Steel to earn a second term representing East Lyme and Salem, with an unofficial tally of 7,099 to 6,889.

State Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme, will serve a fourth term after defeating Democratic challenger Dave Rubino by an unofficial tally of 8,932 to 7,262.

State Rep. Christine Palm, D-Chester, earned a second term by defeating Republican challenger, former state Rep. Robert Siegrist, by an unofficial tally of 7,338 to 6,305.

State Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton, will serve a third term after defeating Republican challenger Lauren Gauthier by an unofficial tally of 5,248 to 3,667.

State Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, will serve a second term in Hartford after he soundly defeated Republican challenger Kat Goulart with over 70 percent of the vote in a safe Democratic district.

Carney defeats Rubino with 55% of Vote

Devin Carney, State Representative of the 23rd assembly district, which includes Old Lyme, Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook, held his seat in the race against democratic candidate Dave Rubino. 

Carney garnered a total of 55 percent of the popular vote, winning in the towns of Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook, although Rubino overtook Carney in the town of Lyme. The total margin was 7,253 to 8,921. 

“I feel fantastic, it’s a weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Carney. “This has been a tough campaign because of the coronavirus, but I’m so thankful the voters are confident enough in me to send me back to Hartford for another two years.”

Looking forward, he said that COVID recovery and balancing the state budget were going to be his top priorities. He also said he hopes to sit on the transportation committee again.

“I pledge to work just as hard for another two years,” he said. 

Rubino said that although he didn’t win, he’d gotten more votes than they had expected, thanks to the high voter turnout. 

“We ran the race we wanted to run,” he said. “I think, for a first race, I’m feeling that we did a really good job.”

McCarty defeats Welch-Collins

Incumbent Kathleen McCarty has retained her office as State Representative of the 38th District, which spans Waterford and Montville.

McCarty, a Republican, beat Democrat candidate Baird Welch-Collins in a margin of 7,181 to 6,858. While Baird beat McCarty in absentee ballots from both Waterford and Montville, McCarty prevailed over Baird at the in-person polls in each of the six districts she represents. 

McCarty said she’s thrilled about the results.

“I’m so happy the residents of Waterford and Montville put their trust in me again. It’s a real privilege and honor.” 

Welch-Collins said he’s grateful for all the support he got from so many people during the last few months. He also said that he thinks his campaign made a difference in getting McCarty to debate the issues he felt are important to the area.

“I’m proud of what we accomplished,” he said.

McCarty said she’s looking forward to continuing her work on the nursing home advisory committee, in order to improve conditions in the nursing homes. She also works on the social-emotional collaborative workforce, and as ranking member of the Education committee. 

“I’m really excited to get back to work. I had a lot of unfinished business,” she said. “It was really paining me to think I might not prevail.” 

WATERFORD — At the Oswegatchie Elementary School, first-time volunteer Jeff Von Flatern greets the occasional voter wandering in around 6:30 p.m.

He said he decided to volunteer because he was concerned. The average poll worker, he said, was in their 80s. Since he’s 61, he decided to step up.

“I was happy to do it,” he said. “I’d do it again.”

He said working as a volunteer has taught him things he didn’t know about his town.  

First-time volunteer Jeff Von Flatern greets voters in Waterford

“I grew up in this town,” he said. “I moved away for 25 years, then came back for 15. What I’ve learned is that it’s much more diverse than I thought.”

Von Flatern owns two UPS franchises. His wife is a civil engineer who later became a massage therapist.

Baird Welch-Collins with supporters shortly before the polls closed

He said he voted in person this morning. “I just get a kick out of it. I enjoy the experience,” he said.

“My first presidential election was in ’80,” Von Flatern said. “I haven’t missed one yet.”

As of 7 p.m, a total of 12,262 individuals had voted in Waterford – 7,537 in person and 4,725 via absentee – accounting for 86% of the town’s registered voters. In 2016, the total was 82%.

Outside the polling place, Baird Welch-Collins said he was optimistic about the outcome of the race.

“We had a really good turnout,” he said.

But he said he’s still unsure of how things will turn out.

“I think it’s going to be razor thin regardless of who wins,” he said.

He said that he has always had a cordial relationship with his opponent, State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, which he said was particularly important for candidates at the local level, especially since the presidential race is so contentious.

In fact, Welch-Collins said, that he went to senior prom with Lauren Gauthier, the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 40th district, which includes Groton and Ledyard.   

A few people will be hanging out at campaign headquarters to hear the results tonight. But if there’s cause to celebrate, it will have to wait until COVID permits.

SALEM — Across the town hall parking on a grassy area, Bill Silva stood silently holding his handmade signs warning of climate change as voters entered and exited the building. 

He’d been standing there since a little before 9 a.m. despite the election day chilly temperatures and brisk wind. 

“Hopefully I’ll stay until the polls close,” he said at about 4 p.m., when he spoke with CT Examiner. “Depends on how cold it gets.” 

Silva said climate change should have been the main issue of the 2020 election. 

“If we get four more years of what we had, on top of what the European Union is pushing right now, which isn’t good, and China will get net zero by 2060. The way other governments in the world are acting, it’s going to be too late.”

Bill Silva warning voters of the climate change crisis

Silva said he didn’t see evidence of anyone thinking about climate change. 

“I don’t think people give it a second thought,” he said.

He recommended reading the summary of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and investigating the Youth Climate Movement. 

“That would be a good place to start,” he said. “It’s still next to nothing compared to what it has to be.”

He said that a false narrative has been pushed and financed by fossil fuel companies for 30 years. 

“Listen to the science. At this point we’re still committed to the Paris Agreement, though we may not be tomorrow,” he said. “Listen to the scientists who have been studying this for the last 50 years.”

OLD LYME — Voter turnout hasn’t hit the numbers of this morning, but people are still coming in. In particular, families with small children are coming out to vote together. On their way out the door from the middle school, parents give their kids “I voted!” stickers and squirt sanitizer onto their hands.

Old Lyme Republicans grilling sausages at the polls

Not far from where Carney supporters are roasting sausages on an outdoor grill, two middle school girls, Anna Eichholz and Sarina Harger, are campaigning for the Republican party.

“I believe he’s a party for everyone,” said Eichholz, an 8th grader at the Old Lyme Middle School, of Carney. “He does things because he believes in them, not because it’s for his party.”  

Republican supporters wave signs in Old Lyme

2542 people have voted in person in Old Lyme. 

STONINGTON — As the sun set on Election Day, Democratic State Senate candidate Bob Statchen has already visited ten polling places, and plans to hit eight more before polls close at 8 PM. 

In a conversation at the former Pawcatuck Middle School, Statchen hedged about reports of high voter turnout, cautioning that anecdotal evidence is not enough. 

Secretary of State Denise Merrill announced at noon that the state had already reached 50 percent of the ballots cast on Election Day in 2016, but Statchen was frustrated that there was no comparison point. 

“How many people had voted by noon in 2016?” Statchen asked. “Without a comparison point, we don’t actually know anything. So I really don’t have a good feel for whether or not this is going to be a high turnout election.

Patrice Granatosky, Town Mayor of Groton, waved signs outside of Zbierski House

“This is the highest turnout I’ve seen in my 30 years living here,” Granatosky said. “I’ve been checking out all of the polling places in town, and everything seems to be going smoothly.”

NORWICH — Scott DuPont said he was standing at the corner outside Rose City Senior Center holding signs for Steve Weir and Caleb Espinoza because he wanted to support local Republicans. 

DuPont said that Connecticut needs to get back open, and that Weir and Espinoza are the candidates who could do that. He said he’s had a mostly good response, with people honking and waving. 

Scott DuPont holds signs for the Republican candidates in Norwich

“Sure some people flip you the bird, but I just wave back,” DuPont said. “Kill ‘em with kindness, I don’t want to go down to their level.”

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said her grandson had driven her around the district all day and that she had visited each polling location in the district, some more than once. 

Osten said that all of them were busy, especially in the morning, but also in the workday hours where poll traffic usually slows down. By noon, Norwich had exceeded the total voter turnout for the 2018 election, said Osten. 

Kevin Saythany, vice chairman of the Norwich Democratic Town Committee and member of the Norwich Board of Education, was holding signs for the Democratic candidates, including Osten. Saythany said he wanted to thank voters for coming to the polls despite the cold and COVID. 

Kevin Saythany supporting the Democratic ticket in Norwich

“This election is critical, and it’s something we can’t sit out,” Saythany said. “Voters need to participate, so I want to thank them.”

He said Osten and State Rep. Kevin Ryan are “dedicated, hardworking and believe every individual counts.” They may not be perfectly representative of Norwich, but they represent it as well as they can and do their best to make it a better place, he said. 

WESTBROOK — The COVID-19 precautions make it obvious that this is an election like no other. Voters who walk into the gymnasium at the Mulvey Municipal Building are met with a row of tables covered with plexiglass shields separating them from the poll workers.

Plexiglass protection at the Mulvey Municipal Building in Westbrook

As of 3 p.m., 1508 people in Westbrook had turned out to vote in person, out of 4,949 eligible voters. Another 32.5 percent voted by absentee ballot. According to the town’s registrar, that amounts to a 63 percent turnout so far.

Outside, members of the Democratic and Republican town committees in Westbrook held up signs and waved at people as they drove in. 

“Devin has great constituent service. He shows up everywhere,” said Paul Winch, vice president of the Westbrook Republican Town Committee.

Lee McNamar, chair of the Westbrook RTC, said that he knew someone who lost power for two weeks because of Tropical Storm Isaias — that person called Devin, and within two or three days, his power was back on.

Lee McNamar and Paul Winch at the polls in Westbrook

“It’s not only what he does in the House, in Hartford,” said McNamar, “He’s really involved in the communities he represents.”

On the other side of the street, Westbrook Democratic Town Committee member Belinda Jones is making a case for Dave Rubino.

Belinda Jones holds signs for the Democratic ticket

“It’s rare that voters get the caliber of candidate they get in Dave,” she said. “His depth of experience is really unique.”

Jones praised Rubino’s work as an international human rights lawyer, and his experience as a small business owner and working for large corporations. She said she’s also supportive of his stance on certain key Democratic issues.

“He’s been a guardian of women’s rights for years,” she said. “He’s also a really powerful advocate for climate.”

A high voter turnout could also be a boon for the Westbrook High School senior class. Members of the school’s Project Grad, are holding an outdoor bake sale to raise money for a drug-and-alcohol free overnight event for the seniors.

Kim Esposito, the president of the project, and her daughter Izzy, a senior at the high school, have been outside selling pies, bread and cookies since 4:30 a.m.

Kim and Izzy Esposito raise funds for graduating seniors

They said that around 5:40 this morning, people started to flood in to the polls. What was earlier in the day a table stacked high with goodies has now decreased substantially.

Esposito said that Dave Perregaus, the person who coordinated the bake sale, refuses to tell her how much money they’ve earned so far. However, she said that in the past, the project has earned between $4,000 and $5,000.   

CLINTON — Republican State Senate candidate Brendan Saunders has spent the entire election day at the one polling place in his home of Clinton. Saunders has been here since 5:30 AM, and said the wait has been at least 45 minutes all day. A poll worker said that at peak, some voters have had to wait nearly two hours. 

“I’ve been voting here for 40 years and I’ve never seen lines like this,” said Peg Barrett, a voter who had been waiting for half an hour in the cold. “I’m so proud to see everyone here, and I think it’s a beautiful tribute to what’s going on in America right now.” 

Brendan Saunders at Clinton Town Hall

Snaking around the town hall building and onto the street, voters have patiently waited to cast their ballots, and they have all had a chance to speak to Saunders in person. 

“I’ve never seen lines anywhere close to this long,” Saunders said. “It’s obviously very encouraging to see turnout so high.” 

In conversations with voters, Saunders said many of them have raised the issue of Eversource, and ensuring consistent energy access for those in the district. Focusing on policy issues and legislation has been the main focus of his campaign, Saunders said, so he was heartened to hear voters discuss concerns about how the state government has handled Eversource. 

“I’m proud of the fact that we’ve had a positive campaign that focused on the contrast between me and my opponent,” Saunders said. “Win or lose, I can go to bed feeling good about the campaign I ran.” 

An early afternoon line to vote in Clinton

One Saunders voter waiting in line raised his policies on taxation as the main reason Saunders had won her vote. 

“I’m not happy with the way the Connecticut state government has been run,” Michelle Fillion said. “I think we are overtaxed, and there is complete disregard for property owners and small business owners. We need change, which is why I’m voting for Brendan Saunders.” 

Another voter, supporting Needleman, said that personal endorsements from the community had earned her support.

“I think Norm cares about people,” Christine Edda said. “I know people that have worked for his company in Essex and they’ve made me confident that he’s a good man.”

UNCASVILLE – Cassandra Gallion stood outside the Mohegan Elementary School waving to voters as they drove in, and holding a sign for State Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville. 

Gallion, who works on Ryan’s campaign, said he is a great legislator and nice man who has done well for the district. She said his role on the legislative Appropriations Committee puts him in a good position to get funding for the town. 

Cassandra Gallion holds a sign for State Rep. Kevin Ryan outside of Mohegan Elementary School in Uncasville

“A lot of people don’t understand how powerful that is,” she said. 

Gallion said Ryan’s race against Republican challenger Caleb Espinosa — who sported a large sign across the parking lot from where Gallion stood — was a key race for Democrats. 

“As a Democrat, you have to work on the hard districts,” she said. 

OLD SAYBROOK — Early afternoon at the polls is quiet. At both the middle school and the high school, lines of orange and green traffic cones spaced six feet apart stand alone, with no human beings in sight.

Old Saybrook Middle School in the early afternoon

So far, 1400 people have voted at the high school and 1200 at the middle school, which Christina Burnham, moderator at the high school, estimates to be about 2/3 of the total vote in Old Saybrook.

Around 1:45, Devin Carney was standing outside Old Saybrook High School, wearing a mask decorated with miniature images of the state of Connecticut, a gift from State Sen. Paul Formica.

Devin Carney outside of the Old Saybrook High School

Earlier this morning, Dave Rubino was making a different sort of statement at the middle school – a string of pearls, in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Laura Parker Grey, an Old Saybrook Democrat, sent a photo of herself, Rubino and State Senate candidate Martha Marx, who is wearing a shirt with a picture of Ginsberg’s face.   

Laura Parker Grey, Martha Marc and Dave Rubino (Courtesy of Grey)

Carney said he’s seen a heavy turnout, especially in Old Lyme. Despite the lack of in-person events, and having to do a lot more phone calling and texting that he’s ever done, he said that he’s feeling good. Whatever happens, he said, now it’s out of his hands.

UNCASVILLE — Baird Welch-Collins communications director Sarbani Hazra was holding signs for Democratic candidates outside the polls at Montville Town Hall, which was quiet around 2 p.m.

Hazra said she’s been interested in politics since hearing her parents talk about it at the dinner table when she was a child. She first campaigned at age 16, she said. She jumped at the chance to work for Baird-Collins campaign. 

Sarbani Hazra was holding signs for Democratic candidates outside Montville Town Hall

“He just has that energy that gets you ready to go,” Hazra said.

She said Baird-Collins struck her as a genuine and sincere person, and a hard worker. He has been supportive of local Black Lives Matter organizers, which Hazra said shows “he stands for everyone.”

NEW LONDON — Melissa Ford, City Councilor Curtis Goodwin, and State Rep. Anthony Nolan stood in the biting wind outside of the Harbor School, watching the line of voters that followed the sidewalk outside the building.

Goodwin said the atmosphere was upbeat at the polls that morning.

“I’m hearing a lot of positive attitudes. I’ve seen teenagers with their families, a lot of first time voters,” he said. “People are just really excited to vote this time around.”

From about 7 to 11 a.m., Ford has been standing with Republican Kat Goulart, who is running for the 38th House seat against Nolan. Ford said she supports Goulart and Republican State Sen. Paul Formica, because they are fiscally responsible.

Melissa Ford (left), Curtis Goodwin (middle), State Rep. Anthony Nolan

“She really looks at the numbers and examines things and asks questions and you need to have that on a state level, “ said Ford. “You need to have differences of opinion, it’s good to have critical conversation, otherwise it’s not good for anyone because no one is questioning it.”

Nolan said voters had been asking questions about the police accountability bill.

“I actually had people who said they weren’t going to vote for me, because of that, decide to vote for me after we talked about it,” Nolan said.

He said that the immunity provision and the idea that the bill defunds the police, were the issue.

Nolan acknowledged that there could have been more opportunities for public hearings, but the bill followed the process of law that allowed it to pass.

“Has that happened with other legislation? I’m sure it has,” he said. “The bill wasn’t perfect but I was happy to see it go through because this was an opportunity [to do something] that affects our community.”

Nolan said that if leadership decides to bring the bill back to the table for discussion, then “so be it.” “But it passed and now we’re going to deal with it,” he said.

COLCHESTER — Democrat and incumbent State Sen. Norm Needleman waved at voters as they drove up to Colchester Town Hall to vote at noon on election day. 

Needleman says the energy this year is quite different, but he still appreciates the opportunity to meet voters where they are. 

“It’s been a very odd election day, especially since we don’t have any plans to gather tonight,” Needleman said. “Keeping people safe is the top priority, especially with this very concerning rise in cases, but it’s still so surreal.” 

In 2018, Needleman eked out a victory in the long-held Republican State Senate seat by just 0.2 percent of the vote. 

“I’m confident that my district is prepared to count the ballots tonight, so unless it’s another 83-vote race, we should know tonight which one of us wins,” Needleman said. 

When asked if he’s feeling optimistic about the outcome, Needleman said he never lets himself get his hopes up. 

State Sen. Norm Needleman outside of the polls in Colchester

“I never feel optimistic about elections, since I’d always rather assume I’m going to lose so I don’t get disappointed,” Needleman said. “Still, I think we’ve run a good campaign, and I know I’ve done my best. If the public thinks I’ve served them well, they’ll reelect me. I love serving the district, and I hope to do more. But even if this is all I get, I’m proud of my record.” 

Several Needleman voters at Colchester Town Hall cited national politics as one reason they support his candidacy. 

“I like to be bipartisan, but in this election, I voted Democratic all the way,” Michelle Avery said. “The political arena is just too crazy right now. What’s coming from the Republicans is just hateful.” 

Ruth Herstein, another Needleman voter, appreciated his party’s handling of the current economic crisis. 

“I think the Democrats have done a better job during the pandemic,” Ruth Herstein said. “Especially with the economy, Democrats have been more generous with the stimulus package, and I think that’s what we need right now.” 

Needleman’s challenger, Brendan Saunders, has argued throughout the campaign that Needleman’s left-wing politics are out of step with his district. 

As one Saunders voter we talked to agreed, citing fiscal issues and pandemic-related restrictions as the reasons behind his support. 

“I voted for Brendan Saunders because I think we need more of a Republican presence in state government,” Keith Macht said. “Taxes are my main issue, but I’m also not a big fan of all of the governor’s restrictions.”

EAST HADDAM — The line ebbed and flowed, but cars were still backing up on Town Street to turn into the East Haddam Municipal Complex around 10 a.m., as police directed traffic in the congested parking lot. 

When polls opened at 6 a.m., the parking lot filled up and voters were parking down the street at the library, Democratic volunteer Susan Kinsman said. 

Republican volunteer Forrest Anderson works to keep materials tied down amid blustery winds in East Haddam

The line of voters waiting to get inside had stretched all the way to the skate park on the other side of the building, but moved quickly once the polls opened, Republican volunteer Forrest Anderson said. 

Kim Jonah was volunteering for the first time on Election Day, standing at the Democratic tent with signs for Judd Melón and Norm Needleman. She said she came out to show support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and would be volunteering in future elections. 

“I’m so happy to see people engaged,” she said. 

Stuart Palmer, Alice Hinchcliffe, Susan Kinsman and Kim Jonah stand at the East Haddam Democrats table outside the polls at the municipal building

Kinsman said she thought it was important for the party to have a presence at the polls because she wanted to make sure people felt safe amid fears of Republican “poll watchers.” Another volunteer, Alice Hinchcliffe, said the crowd was larger than she’d seen in previous elections, but it was still quiet, Kinsman said. 

Over at the Republican tent, congressional candidate Justin Anderson was waiting for his wife to arrive so he could go inside and cast his vote. 

“I am voting for myself,” he said. 

Congressional candidate Justin Anderson waits for his wife to arrive so he can cast his vote

Anderson said he was feeling positive about his chances. Even in conversations with Democrats, according to Anderson, they’ve said they’re not happy with their representation in Congress.

But while he feels upbeat, Anderson said it could be a different story outside of the people he’s talked to. 

“People who know me are voting for me,” he said. 

Forrest Anderson, not related to the candidate, said he came out because the Republicans and Justin Anderson needed support. 

“If anyone can help Connecticut and get money back to the state, it’s Justin,” he said. 

WATERFORD — At Great Neck Road Elementary School, over 900 people had voted as of 11 a.m., according to moderator Susan Gardner.

“We haven’t had an empty room yet,” said Gardner.

Outside the poll site, State Rep. Kathleen McCarty stands on the sidewalk with her granddaughter Caitlin and friend Sara Gilman Mallari, waving at cars driving into the entrance.

State Rep. Kathleen McCarty stands with supporters at Great Neck Rd. in Waterford

There are no solid numbers yet, but McCarty said she’s nervous about the effect that national politics could have on her election.

“All I can say is that I’ve worked tirelessly for this district,” she said. “I try very hard to be responsive to my constituents.”

Voters stand in line at a polling station in Waterford at Great Neck Rd.

McCarty said she’s happy about the turnout, especially the first-time voters who are coming out.

“It’s a constant flow,” she said. “I’m pleased to see so many people coming out. I need our supporters to get out.” 

East Lyme turnout by hour (bottom row is 11 a.m.)

NEW LONDON — About 70 incorrect ballots were submitted at the New London Harbor School between 6 and 7 a.m. this morning, according to New London Registrar Rob Pero.

Ballots meant for voters in the 41st State House district went to a polling location for voters in the 39th, Pero said. The registrar’s office is working to contact the voters whose ballots were affected to give them a chance to vote in the correct State House district, he said.

The ballots will be hand-counted so they will still count, aside from the State House race, he said. Pero said his office has been in contact with the Secretary of the State’s office about the issue.

According to Pero, an election worker apparently mistook ballots marked for the Second Congressional district for ballots for the Second Voting District in New London. A machine reader returned error messages when the incorrect ballots were submitted, but officials thought there was an issue with the machine. 

Voters began putting ballots in the auxiliary bin to be hand counted until a new machine arrived about an hour later. The new machine was still giving error messages, which is when election workers realized the ballots were the issue, Pero said.

Ronald Dunham II outside of the polls in New London (CT Examiner/Hewitt)

NEW LONDON — Roland Dunham II, was standing outside of the Science and Technology Magnet School, where the voter lines snaked along the interior hallways and outside, with voters less than six feet apart.

Dunham said police brutality should be the top priority for all of the candidates and that’s why he voted for Anthony Nolan, the Democratic State Rep. for the 39th district.

“He signed the police accountability bill and that’s the only reason why I voted for him. He also has connections with the police force. He has certain things that are beneficial to Black communities,” he said.

“If candidates aren’t talking about police accountability, if they’re not talking about getting rid of some of these white supremacist cops that are in these police forces, if they’re not talking that type of rhetoric, then they’re detached and they need to do outreach and talk with people of their community and really, really do some work,” said Ronald Dunham.

Dunham, who is the president of the New London Lions Club, said the racial issues should be at the top of every candidate’s list of priorities in New London.

“New London is 2/3 Black and Brown. I don’t hear Black and Brown really as strong issues. The average age is 31. I don’t think some of the candidates are reaching serious issues. We have Black Lives Matter signs everywhere. We want protection,” said Dunham.

“If candidates aren’t talking about police accountability, if they’re not talking about getting rid of some of these white supremacist cops that are in these police forces, if they’re not talking that type of rhetoric, then they’re detached and they need to do outreach and talk with people of their community and really, really do some work.”

Dunham said Nolan has already taken flack from police unions and others because of his stance. “He’s standing for his community. He’s not standing for other people’s interests,” he said.

Margaret Streicker greats voters in East Haven on Tuesday morning

EAST HAVEN — Republican Margaret Streicker, a real estate developer from Milford, stood outside the Momauguin Elementary School polling station to talk to voters as they cast their ballots on the morning of election day. 

Streicker is challenging incumbent Democrat Rosa DeLauro, who has not faced a particularly competitive race since she was first elected, not once earning less than 60 percent of the vote for re-election in her three decades in Congress. 

Still, Streicker believes this year could be different. 

“I’m thrilled to see such high turnout, and to hear from so many voters who say they’re crossing party lines to vote for me,” Streicker said. “I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run.” 

While some voters at the Momauguin polls stopped to thank Streicker and share that she had their vote, others were staunchly in DeLauro’s camp. 

“Margaret Streicker is anti-Planned Parenthood, so I’ll be voting for DeLauro,” said Alexa Briggs. “I support women’s healthcare.” 

Virgil Garcia, a voter who expressed frustration with some of DeLauro’s stances on issues like net neutrality, still said she had his vote. 

“I’m voting straight ticket blue, because Republicans are despicable,” Garcia said. “Trump and his enablers need to go away.”

Outside the polls in Westbrook on Tuesday morning

WATERFORD — At Quaker Hill Elementary, poll workers are experiencing the first lull so far of the morning. First time volunteer Judy Meucci said that at 6:30 this morning the line was wrapped all the way around and done the hallway. As of 10 a.m., 709 people had voted.

Margaret Welch, mother of Baird Welch-Collins, outside of Quaker Hill Elementary

Many people said they didn’t know much about the Welch-Collins vs. McCarty race. One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she thought the race was going to be close. 

A lull in voting on Tuesday morning at Quaker Hill Elementary in Waterford

“She hasn’t don’t a bad job,” the woman said of McCarty, “But sometimes a fresh face is good.”

Outside the polling place there was someone who knew plenty about the race — Margaret Welch, candidate Baird Welch-Collins’ mother.

“He was a great kid. He was never a bully in school,” she said. “He was interested in politics since he was 14. He was always very concerned about inequality.” 

A view of the polling station in Old Lyme

You can find an amazingly comprehensive printable voter guide compiled by Daniel Nichanian for elections across the United States here.

East Hampton Town Counselor Kevin Reich and Anthony Valentino welcomed voters

EAST HAMPTON — Down the hill, East Hampton Town Counselor Kevin Reich and Anthony Valentino welcomed voters on behalf of Democratic candidates State Sen. Norm Needleman and Judd Melón. 

Reich said he was out waving to people earlier in the morning who he later saw coming to vote.

Reich said Needleman has done a great job representing East Hampton, and that Melón could be a “breath of fresh air” who would be able to serve East Hampton better as a member of the majority party in the State House. 

“I think (Needleman) is fantastic,” Valentino said. “He’s so intelligent and up on the issues, there’s not a question he can’t answer for you.”

State Rep. Irene Haines, R-East Haddam with volunteers (CT Examiner/Crowley)

EAST HAMPTON — State Rep. Irene Haines, R-East Haddam, welcomes voters to the polls at East Hampton High School along with Russell Bonaccorso, George Coshel, David Balthazar and Dale Ursin — whose wife Linda set up the stand before heading inside to count absentee ballots. 

The volunteers said Haines was the reason they were standing in the cold welcoming voters.

“You can’t put this much time and dedication into people you don’t support, it’s all about the candidate,” Balthazar said. 

“Irene’s an amazing candidate and state rep,” Bonaccorso said. “She’s one of the voices of sanity in Hartford.”

Congresswoman Rose DeLauro, D- New Haven, speaks to supporters in Ansonia

ANSONIA — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, the Democrat who has represented the greater New Haven area in Congress for the last three decades, talked to voters in Ansonia as they cast their ballots on the morning of election day. 

“I love stopping by the polls on election day,” DeLauro said. “It’s so great to see people come out and volunteer their time. It’s not just about standing somewhere with a sign, it’s about what’s behind that, which is making sure people elect politicians who represent their interests and the needs of their community.” 

DeLauro said she feels optimistic about the day, not just for Connecticut but for the entire country. As voters left the Mead School voting center, DeLauro thanked them for voting. Some voters recognized Rosa and thanked her for taking the time to come out. 

“This campaign has been different because we haven’t been able to go door-to-door the way we used to,” DeLauro said. “We’ve had to compensate with lots of texting and Zoom meetings and tele town halls. It’s great to see people in person as they vote and get that quick engagement to thank them for participating in the election.” 

In the first hour of in-person voting, people were in and out of the building in minutes, and there was no line. A few voters shared how they voted in the congressional race, though many wanted to discuss the presidential election. One voter, Jeff Mackowski, said he cast his ballot for DeLauro’s republican opponent, Margaret Streicker, voting straight down the line for the Republican Party. 

“I don’t like the way the democrats have been handling a lot of our issues,” Mackowski said. “I’m optimistic about our chances. All I can do is exercise my right to vote, just like everyone should be doing.”

Tim Fearney also voted for Streicker, arguing that the district needs to oust the incumbent for real change. In the presidential election, Fearney cast his vote for libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen, in hopes that he can express his frustration with the two-party system and political status quo. 

“I’m not happy with the way things have been going with all of the fighting in Washington,” Fearney said. “If you’re there and you’re not solving the problem, you are the problem.” 

Anne Marie Ilardi voted to reelect President Donald Trump, but voted for DeLauro to represent her in Congress. 

“I feel like Rosa has represented me well and I like her stances, but I want Donald Trump back in office,” Ilardi said. “Balance makes Washington work better.”

Voters line up inside a polling station in Waterford on Tuesday morning (CT Examiner/Otte)

Grant Livington – “I’m 32, my wife’s 29. She (McCarty) kind of hits home for our age demographic. She actually called and spoke to my wife about how supportive she is of teachers.”

Lora Murphy – “I’m a Democrat but I voted for McCarty in the past. I’ll probably vote for her again. She sends out things about road closures, things like that. She stopped by our house once. She seemed like a nice person.”

Voters line up in Old Saybrook on Tuesday morning (CT Examiner/Otte)

Bits and pieces from Old Saybrook voters:

Sarah – “Dave Rubino’s amazing. He’s super duper smart, a human rights attorney. And we need some fresh air.”

Charlie Delinks – “I’m a Carney supporter. He’s responsive … he shows up to everything in Old Lyme. I think he’s been a real representative. That’s all I can ask for.”

Tracie – “I’m voting straight blue, because we need hope.”

Anonymous – “Devin is very engaged in the community, he’s done a great job the last 6 years. He knows the local issues. I don’t think Rubino knows the local issues as well as Carney does.”

In Westbrook, at about 8 a.m. Chris Ehlert re-stakes a sign that has pulled loose in the wind

Lyme-Old Lyme — A long line stretched down along the Middle School as the polls opened