MANSFIELD, 5:54 a.m.
Amidst the darkness of the November morning, the Mansfield Town Hall was lit, a hub of activity in the gloom. The parking lot was a carousel of Ubers; the company facilitated Election Day by offering discounted rides to the polls. A registration sign stood in front of the building, and a “VOTE HERE” sign accompanied a line of more than 20 voters.
Mansfield resident Stephen Torres was one of the first to arrive at the polls. The only barrier to vote, he said, was the busy work day ahead of him, prompting a 6 a.m. arrival to the election poll.
“It’s an important one,” Torres said. “I’m glad there are young people here.”
Young people, indeed, were in attendance early, but they were far outnumbered by senior citizens.
“It’s interesting,” said first-semester University of Connecticut student Janet Wang. “I feel like this election’s media was catered to [young people]. I feel like there’s still so much I don’t know.”
On the administrative end of the polls, election day moderator Anne Grenadier rushed around feverishly, ensuring the day’s events would go off without a hitch. She stressed the accessibility of election day involvement and encouraged the continued involvement of all citizens.
Along with working at the polls, Grenadier attributed the success of the elections to voter turnout and commended the involvement of young people.
“On campus, there have been so many drives and we’ve gotten already a lot of new registrations, so we’re expecting a lot of students to show up and vote,” she said.
HARTFORD, 9:30 a.m.
In the atrium of UConn’s downtown Hartford branch, students filed in and out of the building, talking to their friends and exchanging messages on their phones. They hauled backpacks, laptops and heavy books as they made their way to class and designated study areas.
Some wore colorful “I voted!” stickers while putting on their coats to tackle the cold, rainy day. Others talked amongst themselves about the election and the recent push to get young people out and voting.
UConn Hartford is, after all, nestled in the insurance capital of the world and the home of state politics. Students frequently benefit from the close proximity of government offices for internships and job opportunities. The home of the state’s new governor will be just one mile down the road, so the implications of the elections are felt heavily at the branch campus.
Carla Cedeño-Melendez, a first-semester biological sciences major at the branch, lounged on the couch of the atrium with her friends, awaiting the start of her first class of the day. She tried to convince a hesitant peer sitting adjacent to her to vote, citing why it is so essential to become involved in the current political climate. Cedeño-Melendez’s friend seems to consider her argument.
“I’m voting pretty much Democrat because Republicans just haven’t been doing so hot lately,” Cedeño-Melendez said. “I’m not super polarized or anything, but I’m just looking at Republicans historically and how different they are now in comparison to how they were in the 90s and even decades earlier.”
Cedeño-Melendez said her vote this election cycle will be for blue candidates in order to give Republicans a chance to re-establish themselves as a party. “Being in the Senate with all that power is not the place to regroup,” Cedeño-Melendez said.
She said she would be supporting candidates like Chris Murphy (D) for senator and Ned Lamont (D) for governor.
Across the spacious atrium, Andrew Capossela, an undergraduate psychological sciences major, left class with a friend of his. Like Cedeño-Melendez, he was eager to head to the polls for his first general election as an eligible voter and college student.
“I’m voting because it’s important politically,” Capossela said. “We’re in a democracy, and voting is our right and should be done by everyone.”
Carly Demsen, a first-semester environmental studies major, had much to do Tuesday. She shuffled around Hartford’s campus, waiting to go to her Biology 1102 lecture. After she finished her classes, she would head home and prepare for work at her local Target. Before that? Demsen said she would make an effort to go out and vote, ensuring it will be part of her schedule.
“I am voting because I think my opinion matters,” Demsen said. “Now that I’m a legal adult, my vote matters in terms of the government and how everything is run in Connecticut.”
Despite only recently becoming qualified to vote and balancing other interests, the students made sure they would have the availability to get to the polls Tuesday. They continued to go about their days, talking with friends and typing assignments for classes, knowing they’ve contributed in a small way to a massive aspect of government procedure.
“I feel like [by voting] I’ll be making an impact,” Demsen said.
MANSFIELD, 11 a.m.
As raindrops began to fall, the first bus arrived at the Student Union to transport voters to polling destinations. Despite the discouraging weather, dozens of UConn students crowded the Student Union throughout the day, eager to participate.
UConn provided all-day bus transportation to local polls, part of a nationwide initiative to make voting accessible to young people.
“I’m excited. This is my first time voting,” first-semester communication major Nick Magliochetti said. “These buses make it so much easier to go where I need to go.”
Students of all class standings rode the bus throughout the day, but the largest population was generally freshmen.
“I wouldn’t know how to get to the polls really, by myself. My friends were all doing this, and it was easy to fit into my day,” said first-semester communication major Dominick Zampino.
Not only were these buses accessible to all students, but they were an enjoyable experience for most, as they were able to travel to the polls with their friends.
“I was able to get three more of my friends to come with me [and register] today,” Annie Bugos, first-semester psychology major, said. “[UConn] did a great job in getting more people to vote.”
MANSFIELD, 1:05 p.m.
The day’s light drizzle turned to heavier rain in the early afternoon, but dreary weather didn’t deter the scores of UConn students and Mansfield residents arriving at the polls.
A table with laptops was set up outside of Mansfield’s Council Chambers, where students who were not yet registered to vote took advantage of Connecticut’s same-day voter registration law.
People wearing buttons reading “official election moderator” asked voters questions like “Have you registered online?” and “Are you a UConn student?” and told them either where to vote or how to register online.
As people lined up to register, some drilled the monitors with questions: “Why do I have to choose the country I live in?”
The moderator laughed and said, “I guess they need to make sure.”
After completing the online voter registration, students lined up to vote. Although it’s common to vote down the ballot for all the nominees of one party, some voters, including fifth-semester history major Xavier Miller, didn’t vote entirely for one party, choosing instead to split his ticket.
“I’m definitely excited for Chris Murphy as an incumbent. I really like him, I’ve always liked him,” Miller said. “I decided to go a different route for the gubernatorial race. I voted for Oz Griebel. I think he’s very focused on bringing jobs to Connecticut and I think that’s something that is very important as major companies like General Electric are leaving, so I want someone who’s able to employ me and my friends, especially if we decide to stay in the state of Connecticut.”
Echoing the sentiments of other UConn students, Miller said he voted because he believes the results of the election will impact himself and his family.
“I feel like it’s important as a student that’s becoming educated, especially as a history student, to participate in our elections, participate in our government,” Miller said.
Though Mansfield’s Municipal Building was filled with voters, not everyone was there to cast a ballot. Some, like seventh-semester allied health science major George Vallejo, were unable to.
“I can’t vote because I’m from New York and I would have to go home today and I have no transportation to get there,” Vallejo said. “If I were to vote here, I would need my name on a lease or any type of mail, but I don’t have any of that because I’m not on the lease. I live off-campus.”
Vallejo said he came to the polls to support his friends, who were casting ballots and wished he could vote himself.
“I was informed about the absentee ballot late so I couldn’t really do much about it,” Vallejo said. “I’m upset because I really wanted to, I was looking forward to it.”
MANSFIELD, 6:30 p.m.
Only after 5 p.m. did the line, stretching outside the Mansfield Community Center, begin to shorten. UConn students and town residents eagerly waited in the rain.
Louanne Cooley, an election official, helped university students register to vote.
“It’s pretty busy, but it seems very steady,” Cooley said. “This is a higher turnout than we normally see on a midterm election.”
She said she was pleased there had not been any confusion throughout the day. People had the necessary documents in order to vote and did not have difficulty navigating the correct voting location.
Cooley’s main concern was the amount of people remaining in the registration line with only an hour and a half left in the voting day.
“Hopefully we can get the people through that line, because if they are not past that step, at eight o’clock it ends,” she said.
HARTFORD, 8:00 P.M.
In the quiet, dimly lit streets of Hartford, small crowds of voters strolled in to Annie Fisher Magnet School to submit their remaining ballots. Students got a day off as the school became host to an important election center.
In front of the parking lot where few remained, residents of Hartford conversed among themselves in anticipation of the election results. From inside, the polling moderator finished the post-voting process as the school gymnasium wooden brown doors began to close.
After the votes were finalized, an election official entered the hallway where she slowly read off the election results from a white slip of paper. The final number of counted ballots cast for the precinct is 1,313, alongside 32 absentee ballots.
The votes were read aloud to the press, marked and called in. The school, once busy hours ago with residents attempting to have their voice heard, closes for the night in the heart of Hartford.
MANSFIELD, 8:00 P.M.
With the night dwindling and the line steadily shrinking, last-minute voters were able to walk in, show their ID at the check-in table, pick up their ballot, vote and leave within five minutes of arrival.
The polls close.
The officials retreated to the Office of the Registrar to count the totals. The room was empty with all the voting dividers folded and put away, the chairs were placed back on the rack and just one table remained by the printer, used to determine the candidate.
The machine whirred out long sheets of results, printed on white receipt paper, carefully collected and rolled by waiting officials.
“I thought it went very well; we had a great turnout,” Voting Moderator for District One, Mary Stanton, said. “I heard that last midterm election we had 1,300 voters, and this year the number was over 3,000.”
The officials calculated a total of 3,421 ballots for Mansfield Community Center.
After the calculations were totaled, the officials concluded the evening with their post-election protocol. This included recording the results, organizing the ballots, storing them in a bag, disassembling the printer and returning the voting room to its original layout.
The results that they, and others around the state, bustled over would soon be entered into the state database, totaled with other towns and announced in just a few hours. The voting room, once filled with footsteps and keyboard clicks and the shuffle of papers, grew dark and silent once more.
Outside, Connecticut waited.
This story was compiled by Gabriella DeBenedictis (daytime reporting in Mansfield), Grace Burns (Morning and bus coverage) Sean Humphrey and Taylor Harton (Hartford coverage) and Will Raccio (Mansfield evening coverage). It was edited by Marlese Lessing, Anna Zarra Aldrich, Stephanie Sheehan and Chris Hanna.