State sees high voter registration
Following a national trend, voter registration continues to soar in Connecticut, especially among young people, who traditionally have weak participation in elections.
According to data from the Connecticut secretary of the state’s office, from the 2016 election through the end of September, 103,436 new voters registered as Democrats, compared with 53,371 who registered as Republicans.
But many more Connecticut residents — 168,090 — registered as unaffiliated.
Although voter registration in Connecticut has surged for all age groups, the biggest increase is among voters ages 18 to 25.
In the last midterm cycle, as of Oct. 10, 2014, only 7,960 Connecticut residents in that age bracket had registered to vote. As of Oct.10 of this year, 51,659 young voters had registered.
“It’s tremendous,” said Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. “I feel like I’ve been waiting all my life for young people to turn out and now they have.”
More of those young people registered as Democrats (16,797), than Republicans (6,596). But more than half — 28,566 — of those new young voters registered as unaffiliated.
The increase in voter registration across the board is significant, analysts say. Since there’s no presidential contest in a midterm election, the number of those signing up to vote in those cycles is usually depressed. That trend has been broken in Connecticut and elsewhere across the nation.
Compared with the same period in the last mid-term election, new Democratic and Republican voter registrations in Connecticut more than doubled — and unaffiliated voter registration tripled.
“Just in September, we had more than 20,000 registrations,” said Merrill.
Voter registration in Connecticut ends Oct. 30 and enrollment usually surges as that deadline draws near. This year is no different, with the pace of registrations accelerating even more since the beginning of the month. Connecticut also has Election Day registration for those who meet the eligibility requirements.
More than 5,600 new voter registrations were processed in the first 10 days of the month, as the controversy over the confirmation of new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh transfixed the nation and deepened its partisan divide.
In those 10 days, 2,312 voters registered as Democrats, 1,202 registered as Republicans and 2,153 as unaffiliated.
Merrill attributed the increase of voter registrations to several factors. One is that Connecticut residents can now sign up to vote when they are at the Department of Motor Vehicles and online.
An increase in social media campaigns aimed at registering voters is also helping increase registrations, Merrill said, as is increased politicization of the nation since President Donald Trump won the White House.
“The 2016 election seems to have galvanized voters,” Merrill said.
Connecticut is one of 19 states where Democrats are ahead of Republicans when it comes to active registered voters. As of Oct. 10, there were 780,313 active Democratic voters registered in Connecticut, compared with 457,813 active registered Republicans.
The number of unaffiliated active voters was 862,466.
Although registered Democrats in Connecticut outnumber registered Republicans, Democrats in the state turn out to vote “at a slightly lower percentage” than GOP voters, Merrill said.