WATERTOWN — Voters braved the rainy weather Tuesday, November 6 to cast their vote in the pivotal 2018 Midterm election. Despite the bad weather, local voters came out in large numbers this year. There was a consistent flow of residents casting their ballots at all the polling stations in town. At times long lines formed as residents tried to vote before or after work.
“Never saw it like this,” commented Janice McGarvey after casting her ballot. Despite the unusual wait, voters were still happy to show up. The long lines did not seem to deter anyone, instead voters were encouraged to see their peers go out and perform their civic duty.
Officials running the polling stations were also surprised to see such heavy turnout this year. At the Watertown High School polling station, there was 66.53 percent voter turnout. Other polling stations in town posted similar levels of turnout.
Turnout levels were matching those of presidential elections, which is unusual for midterm elections, which usually see lower voter participation.
There was a mix of excitement and nervousness in the air as voters cast their ballots. While some showed a cautious optimism, others showed confidence in their choices.
Some of the prominent issues that voters said they want addressed after the election are healthcare, taxes, the state’s economic future and immigration.
Some residents had a chance to voice their opinions to the Town Times after they left the polling station.
One voter who said “People are ready for a change” could summarize the feelings of most.
Others had more specific policy requests. Veterans Frank Johnson and Bud Fletcher expressed the importance of voting and urged candidates to make healthcare more available for those with disabilities.
One voter expressed the importance of supporting teachers and making it easier for them to get school supplies.
“People need to voice their opinion and vote,” said Chris Brooks, a voter who was excited to see the large turnout this year.
Still other residents just expressed relief that hopefully all the stress caused by the election year will come to an end and things can get back to normal.
Despite some contention late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, the results have been tallied.
Connecticut’s new governor will be Ned Lamont.
Throughout the campaign, Mr. Lamont promised to support middle class tax breaks and help create initiatives to create economic growth.
Democrats have wrestled control of the state Senate, ending the deadlock in Hartford. The state’s House of Representatives is also still firmly in Democratic control.
With the General Assembly on his side, Mr. Lamont has the chance to implement the policies he envisions for the state’s future.
Watertown will be sending Joe Polletta and Eric Berthel to Hartford in January. The two men won their respective re-elections, with Joe Polletta going back to the House of Representatives and Mr. Berthel going back to the Senate.
The two had a moment to speak about the election and what their next steps were once the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
Mr. Polletta called the election results a “clear mandate from the voters.” He is “eager to get back to work” and plans to follow the principles that matter to the district’s constituents.
Mr. Polletta thanked voters for the opportunity to serve a full term and thanked his opponent, Jeff Desmarais, for a good race and for discussing important issues.
“We held true to our conservative values,” said Mr. Berthel. He continued to say that he was honored to be re-elected by the 32nd District and that he takes the responsibilities of being a state Senator seriously.
Other positions were elected to the state’s government this year. William Tong will be the state’s new Attorney General. Shawn Wooden won the election to be the state Treasurer. Kevin Lembo, who was elected to be the state’s Comptroller, will assist Mr. Wooden in managing the state’s finances.
Denise Merrill has been re-elected and will be Connecticut’s Secretary of State.
On the federal level, Chris Murphy won his re-election bid for the Senate and Jahana Hayes will be the 5th District’s representative to Congress.
The Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives while the Republicans have held on to the Senate. With Congress now split, the future of President Donald Trump’s policies will be in question. It seems as if voters can expect legislative deadlock on the federal level for the next few years.
Two state Constitutional amendments were on the ballot this year.
The first proposed amendment regarded the Special Transportation Fund. The amendment would ensure “that all moneys contained in the Special Transportation Fund be used solely for transportation purposes, including the payment of debts of the state incurred for transportation purposes.” This would create a lock box on the Special Transportation Fund, making it harder for the funds to be used for other projects or diverted into the state’s General Fund.
The second proposed amendment involved the selling of public land.
The potential amendment would require a public hearing and legislation for the state’s General Assembly or another state agency “to sell, transfer or dispose of any real property or interest in real property that is under the custody or control of the [state].”
If the land is under the control of the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the legislation approving the sale of that land must be passed by two-thirds vote of the total membership of each house of the General Assembly.
This amendment would allow more oversight on the sale of public-held land.
The public passed both proposed amendments overwhelmingly.
Election Day is over, but the real work of government has just begun for most of the winners. The impressive turnout this year means that voters are active and listening to political issues, meaning that politicians will have to listen more closely to their constituents.