When town officials realized that the Connecticut Republican presidential primary would take place on April 24, the same day as Newtown’s , they tried to have one of them changed, but to no avail.
, a Republican, said there’s a problem because voters vote at a single location, Newtown Middle School, for the budget referendum, but then must vote at other district polling places for the presidential primary.
The primary date is set by the state and national party leaders, and the referendum date is set by the town charter. Llodra said by the time the registrars realized they were scheduled for the same day, it was too late to do anything about it.
It only affects Republicans, because Democrats aren’t holding a primary this year.
Where to Vote
Confusion is possible even at , which doubles as the District 1 primary polling place, because voters must go through the poll checkers twice, Llodra said, in order to be sure they are eligible voters.
Republicans in District 2 will vote at , and in District 3 at either or the .
Primary voters will decide between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
If voters could only vote in one, Llodra said her advice would be make it the budget referendum.
She said the party primary is part of a national selection process in which each vote is much less important than in the town budget referendum, in which Newtown voters have a direct influence on their town.
"They’re both important," but the primary isn’t the high-stakes choice that the referendum might be, Llodra said. "We are the deciders when it comes to local funding."
There is an alternative, however. Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia said voters can vote by absentee ballot. The Town Clerk’s office will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on April 21, the Saturday prior to the voting day, to handle absentee ballot requests.
Voter Turnout History
Aurelia looked at budget referendums going back to 2006 and said voter turnout ranges from 22% to 33%, and rises during multiple ballots until voters approve the budget. Usually, a low turnout spells trouble for the proposed budget.
In 2006, it took three tries to pass a budget, with voter turnout rising from 22.6 percent, to 29.6 percent and finally to 33 percent.
It took four votes in 2007, with turnout starting at 22.5 percent, then rising to 30 percent and 32.9 percent, until it passed with a 33.9% turnout.
Only one vote was needed in 2008, but seven charter revisions were also on the ballot, and the voter turnout was 39 percent. In 2009, the budget also passed on the first try with a voter turnout of 31 percent.
In 2010 it took three tries, with voter turnouts of 24, 29 and 31 percent.
And in 2011 it failed on the first vote 1,550 yeas to 1,850 nays and a voter turnout of 22 percent, then passed on the second vote 2,018 yeas to 1,850 nays and a relatively low turnout of 24 percent.