Record high levels of voter registration in Mansfield prior to Election Day are expected to lead to a similar increase in voter turnout, said Beverly Miela, the Republican registrar of voters.
There were approximately 15,016 registered voters in Mansfield before Election Day. Registration began Tuesday morning, Miela said. The town has never had more than about 14,000 before an election, she said.
“I would say we’re going to end up with the highest turnout we’ve ever had because we’ve had the highest registration we’ve ever had,” Miela said, before the polls closed Tuesday evening.
In addition to those already registered, over 600 University of Connecticut students took advantage of same day registration, according to Town Clerk Mary Stanton.
Mark Mogayzel, election monitor at the Mansfield Community Center polling station, said that while there are no numbers available yet on voter turnout, it definitely seems like the rise in registration made a difference. Mogayzel said that while busloads of students have resulted in some lines throughout the day, his staff was able to prevent any serious delays for voters.
“The presidential elections are always fairly busy, but this one is the busiest I’ve ever worked,” said Mogayzel, who has assisted with elections in Mansfield for 12 years.
Pearl Matteson, a third-semester acting major, said it’s important for citizens with the right to vote to make their voices heard, even if the candidates may be controversial.
“I think it’s something that everyone should do because there are some people here who aren’t allowed to vote,” Matteson said. “People have fought for this.”
While no one should be afraid to voice their opinions, it’s also important to approach politics with an open mind, Matteson said.
Samantha Coleman, a first-semester environmental engineering major, said that while she had a pretty good idea who she was voting for in the presidential race, she wished she was more familiar with the state and local politicians on the ballot.
Michael Castanho, a first-semester accounting major who accompanied Coleman to the polls, said he was also uncertain about the specifics of local elections. He picked a candidate for Mansfield’s state representative because he seemed like a friendly guy who was making an effort to reach out to voters, Castanho said.
Despite over a year of speeches, debates and campaigning, Castanho said his choice between presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump boiled down to a quick comparison of their actual policies before he stepped into the voting booth.
“The election was fun, but that’s really what it came down to,” Castanho said. “It was a good experience.”
Kimberly Armstrong is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.