Of the town’s 15,689 registered voters, as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 1,421 had blackened in the circle by either Democrat James Albis’ or Republican Linda Monaco’s name on the ballot to be the town’s next representative for the 99th General Assembly District. (District 3 does not vote this election.)
Democratic Registrar of Voters Joe Buonome attributed the measly turnout in East Haven’s first special election not so much to apathy but to unawareness.
“It’s the worst we’ve ever had,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know it’s taking place. And I don’t think the candidates generated any interest.”
The special election is to fill Mike Lawlor's long-held seat. He resigned from the state legislature in January to take a job with the Gov. Dan Malloy administration.
While the four polling places were quite quiet Tuesday afternoon, there was a report of alleged vandalism. Democratic Town Committee Chair Gene Ruocco said a number of Albis signs were ripped out of the ground and discarded.
“People are throwing down Albis signs and throwing them into the mud,” said Ruocco, who was checking out the four polling sites. He said signs from Tuttle Elementary School and along Route 80 and North High Street were ripped off.
“I guess this is their psychological game,” said Ruocco
Albis reported that police Capt. Henry Butler visited his campaign headquarters Tuesday morning about a complaint that he had signs at the polling places and they had to come down. Albis said a local ordinance prohibits putting signs in the ground on public property but it‘s OK for someone to hold one up there, at least 75 feet from the front door.
“It’s not usually enforced but for this election it was,” said Albis, and his signs were removed. “I don’t remember this being a problem before.”
Messages left Tuesday afternoon for Butler, Lt. Joe Slane, the public information officer, Republican Town Committee Chair Louis Crisci and Monaco were not immediately returned.
District reports as of 3 p.m.
District 4, Overbrook Elementary School: 323 votes
Assistant registrar Judy Kamienski said "it’s been very, very slow.“ She said it’s been mostly seniors coming in.
District 1, Tuttle Elementary School: 356 votes
Kara DelGuidice, paraprofessional at Tuttle who also voted there, said she chose Albis. “I just think he’s young and he’ll do good things for the town and my grandfather was a Democrat so I tend to vote Democrat,” she said. “(Albis) will fill Mike Lawlor’s shoes quite well.”
District, 2, Momauguin Elementary School: 380 votes
Jim Dowd was standing outside Momauguin holding up a Monaco sign. Dowd said it had been very slow but he‘s been keeping busy chatting with folks -- a doing a little bit of gazing.
“The girls are the prettiest in this district,” said Dowd. “I know mostly everyone down here so I joke around with them.”
Ron Andrade had just finished exercising his constitutional right at Momauguin. He said he gave Monaco his vote.
“She’s got a little more life experience than young James,” said Andrade. “It’s kind of hard to vote for someone who went to school with my daughter.”
Voter Maureen Osiecki was standing next to Andrade and agreed.
“She seems to have more experience and at this point in time. She’d be a better shot for the state of Connecticut considering the state it’s in,” said Osiecki. “I know James’ father. He was an excellent probate judge.”
District 5, Deer Run Elementary School: 268 votes
Last November, both the third and fifth districts voted at Deer Run. But District 3 sat out this election as Republican Vincent Candelora is its state rep. Still, assistant registrar Connie Woznick said so far “at least” 10 to 12 of Candelora’s constituents have tried to vote there.
Having to turn them away but not wanting to dissuade them from being regular voters, Woznick said she took a gentle approach.
“We explain to them why they don’t have to vote and assure them their right to vote has not been compromised in any way,” she said.
At senior districts one and two there were 57 and 37 votes as of 3 p.m.
Check back tonight for final tallies and notes.