The 2020 presidential election is one for the record books, with close to 88% of eligible voters in Woodbridge participating. According to Head Moderator’s Bernard “Pat” Madden’s report to the secretary of the state, 5,909 Woodbridge voters cast a ballot, of 6,718 eligible voters.
Despite the record number of voters, voting overall went smoothly. Some 2,835 had voted absentee, which was another first in the history of presidential elections. The registrars had set up a counting station in the Parish House of First Church, next to Town Hall and across from the polling stations at the Center Building. Poll workers could start opening the envelopes the day before Election Day, but counting didn’t start until November 3, said Town Clerk Stephanie Ciarleglio.
By opening the mailed envelopes the day before, poll workers could cull those that had not been signed, about 13 or so. Registrar Anna Dickerson said they contacted the voters, and a few came back on Election Day to vote in person.
Only a certain number of voters were admitted into the building at one time, so as to ensure social distancing. Poll workers sprayed down the booths after each use, and wiped them dry before the next voter was admitted, a procedure that took time. During certain hours lines formed and snaked around the Center Building and the police parking lot, but at other times the wait was short. People seemed to be wearing masks, and Dickerson said she was not aware of any issues in that regard.
There were three lines – one each for Voting District 1 (including the 17th state Senate seat) and Voting District 2 (including the 14th Senate seat); the third line was for Election-Day registrants.
The “blue wave” of Democratic wins may not have happened nationally, but in Woodbridge not a single Republican made it into office, incumbent or otherwise. And the one candidate with the fewest votes was at the top of the ticket: The Trump/Pence team received 1,817 votes, as opposed to Biden/Harris with 3,856 votes.
Some Woodbridge voters were looking for alternatives to the two traditional parties and voted either for the Libertarians, Jorgenson & Cohen (37) or the Green Party candidates, Hawkins & Walker (31); one voter cast a vote for write-in-candidates West & Tidball, but none of the other write-ins garnered any local votes.
Dickerson said a couple of local names were written in, but those votes cannot be counted. Write-in candidates need signatures to get their names onto the ballot.
Another race that got attention due to its ugly ad campaigns was that between Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat representing the Third District, and her challenger, Republican Margaret Streicker. DeLauro, who was endorsed by the Working Families Party, won with 3,569 votes; Streicker, who was cross-endorsed by the Independent Party, got 2,024. Green Party candidate Justin Paglino received 75 votes.
Democrat Mary Welander beat Republican Dan DeBarba in the race for the 114th House seat that was held for many years by Republican Themis Klarides. With the votes from the Working Families Party Welander got a total of 3,403 votes; her opponent, who was cross-endorsed by the Independent Party, 2,185.
A sliver of southern Woodbridge is part of the 14th State senatorial district, which is currently held by Democrat James Maroney. He was cross-endorsed by both the Independent Party and the Working Families Party. He beat his Republican challenger, Mike Southworth, 550 to 359.
The biggest part of Woodbridge is part of the 17th state senatorial district. Here, Democrat Jorge Cabrera beat the incumbent, Republican George Logan, 2,633 to 2,051. The district includes parts of the Naugatuck Valley and stretches east to Hamden. District-wide, Logan trailed by 47.8% of the vote to Cabrera’s 52.2%.
Two years ago, the two candidates had had a very close election result, which required a recount in which Logan came out ahead by 87 votes. This time around, Cabrera won with a comfortable margin of more than 2,076 votes.
He thanked Woodbridge voters for their support. “I’m looking forward to working with First Selectman Beth Heller and the rest of Woodridge’s leadership team to make the lives of Woodbridge residents better,” he wrote in an email.
The only local names on the ballot were those for the local registrars, namely Pennell Hamilton for the Democrats (3,294) and Anna Dickerson for the Republicans (2,195). Dickerson has been serving in this capacity for a long time. “This election was three times as hard as a regular election,” she said.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent
Pictured: Poll workers open mail-in envelopes at Town Hall in preparation for Election Day 2020