Middletown, Bridgewater, Granby, Stamford Top Turnout List in 2012 Elections

In a presidential election year, high voter turnout is possible – it’s just not easy. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has presented the 2012 “Democracy Cup” for the highest voter turnout percentage in the 2012 Presidential election in Connecticut to the town of Bridgewater (94.75%) and the city of Middletown (89.86%).   Overall, statewide voter turnout was 74%, slightly less than the last Presidential election turnout of 78.14% in 2008, in what may have been a result of difficulties in transportation and communication due to power outages and downed tree limbs from Hurricane Sandy.

The award is given annually to the small, mid-sized, large towns and city with the highest voter turnout on Election Day. The other winners of thSOTSe 2012 Democracy Cup for voter turnout are Granby (86.22%) and Stamford (71.6%).

Under Democracy Cup criteria, towns with fewer than 5,000 registered voters are considered small; municipalities with between 5,000 and 14,999 and voters are considered mid-sized, towns with 15,000 and 49,999 registered voters are considered large towns. Cities with more than 50,000 registered voters are their own category.

Each community awarded the Democracy Cup will be able to host and display a trophy through next year’s November elections. Trophy presentations were held for Middletown, Bridgewater, Stamford and Granby.

“The voters in Bridgewater, Middletown and the other communities who win the award this year really set an example for all of the voters in Connecticut of why elections and participating in democracy are important. I congratulate both Bridgewater and Middletown for doing such a wonderful job with 9 out of 10 registered voters participating in the 2012 election – it is some of the highest voter turnout in the nation!” Co-sponsored by the East Haddam Civic Association since 2000, the Democracy Cup was created as a way to encourage voter participation in each year’s elections. Merrill said Connecticut was seventh in the nation in voter turnout. Traditionally, she told the Middletown Press, Connecticut has placed 20th. “One week before a major storm, 100 of our 730 polling places were out of commission, so it took a lot of work by a lot of people to get us back online,” Merrill said.

Election Day Turnout Stats Reveal Surprising Leaders Among Towns

Statewide turnout in Connecticut for the November 6, 2012 elections was 73.77%, according to statistics released by the Office of Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.  That is a decrease from 2008's turnout of 78.14%, but enough to rank the state seventh nationally. Bridgewater led the way with 94.75% turnout and was the only municipality to exceed 90%. Just missing the 90% mark were Middletown (89.86%) and Ridgefield (89.42%). Twelve municipalities exceeded 85% turnout. Each of the state’s 169 municipalities had turnout of at least 50% (Waterbury and Windham were lowest at 56%).

In reviewing the number of individuals who voted in the 2012 elections, the stats are quite revealing, and perhaps illustrative as political eyes look ahead to the 2014 elections.

Stamford topped the list, with just over 47,000 voters, followed closely by New Haven with nearly 45,000.  Rounding out the top five were Bridgeport, Hartford, and West Hartford.  Four communities underscored the maxim that registration is a first step, but turnout is the giant leap.  The number of voters in Hartford and West Hartford differed by only 1,001, although Hartford has 11,000 more registered voters. Greenwich, which has about 11,000 fewer registered voters than Waterbury, had in excess of 3,000 more people voting this year, according to the statistics released.

Fairfield placed 6th, one of only six towns where more than 30,000 people voted.  Rounding out the top ten were Greenwich, Danbury, Waterbury and Milford.  Just missing the top ten was Hamden, with 25,610 voters, and Bristol, with 24,571.

Number of people voting / Percentage of registered voters voting

Stamford           47,289       71.60%

New Haven         44,973       62.48%

Bridgeport         37,510       52.22%

Hartford             33,452       65.14%

W. Hartford     32,451       80.81%

Fairfield             30,081       78.97%

Greenwich         29,894       81.93%

Danbury             27,763       78.83%

Waterbury         26,566       56.09%

Milford               25,610       75.90%

Hamden             24,641       71.97%

Bristol                24,571       69.93%


Nonprofit Organizations Help Boost Voter Numbers, Study Finds

If one concurs with the adage that all politics is local, it should come as no surprise that the dust has barely settled on the state and national elections of 2012 as the focus shifts to the municipal–level elections of 2013. A Massachusetts-based organization devoted to increasing the role of nonprofit organizations in spurring voter interest and participation is already publicizing its “Voter Participation Starter Kit for Nonprofits and Social Service Agencies,” available for web download, coming off what it describes as the success of 2012.

The benchmark National Election Exit Poll showed that the lower income, younger, and diverse populations typically served by nonprofits accounted for a greater share of voter turnout than ever before. While some of this can be attributed to population increases, it was also aided by unprecedented voter education and engagement efforts from the nonprofit and civic sector, according to the organization reported.

“Nonprofits are among the nation’s most trusted messengers. An annual Harris poll consistently ranks nonprofits among the few sectors (small businesses are another) that respondents would like to have more rather than less influ­ence in government.”  That observation published in The Nonprofit Quarterly, from George Pillsbury, MPA, founder and executive direc­tor of Nonprofit VOTE, underscores the organization’s initiative.

He adds:  “Nonprofits of the 501(c)(3) variety are pre­sumed to have a limited capacity for promoting political participation because laws prohibit them from engaging in partisan politics to support or oppose a candidate for public office. Yet nonprof­its’ inherent civic engagement assets make them a potent force for political and electoral engage­ment, further strengthened by their nonpartisan approach.”

Organizations including the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits — a long-time partner of Nonprofit VOTE — have led this transition in recent years by bringing voter engagement into the sector mainstream. According to the organization’s newsletter, for the 2012 election they pointed a spotlight on the sector by sending educational materials on the needs of nonprofits to all state candidates.

“Elected officials pay attention to which communities and which populations turn out and are generally more responsive to organizations involved in registering voters and encouraging turnout,” emphasized Sophie Lehman, Communications Director for Nonprofit VOTE.

The National Election Exit Poll is the most relied on exit poll conducted by Edison Research on behalf of ABC News, Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News.