Voter turnout drops in Darien compared with last midterm election, surprising town officials

DARIEN — Election turnout was lower this year than the previous midterm election, despite a hometown candidate up for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Though the number of active voters grew by more than 1,300 since the last midterm election in 2018, the number of those who cast their ballots this year dropped by more than 700 voters according to the town registrar’s office.

Voter turnout only reached approximately 63 percent, dropping 10 percentage points from 2018.

The drop in numbers may look steeper in part because voting registration reached a new high, nearly 15,000 for the first time, Republican Registrar of Voters Cara Gately said.

“I don’t know overall from a statistical standpoint (that) participation was really down,” she said. “I think that decrease is largely a function of (an) increased number of registered voters.”

For those she did see at the polls, Gately said it was “a high energy, really positive day with lots of people out at the polls early exercising their right to vote.”

While there were initially lines at every polling location in the morning, voting tapered off into the afternoon with only a small influx of votes later into the evening. Only half of Darien’s voters cast their ballot by 5 p.m.

Democratic Registrar of Voters Susan Gray said she was surprised to see the relatively low turnout rate in Darien, especially given former Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson’s campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Jayme was a fixture in this town and beloved by so many people we thought we would get — I thought that we would even get a higher percentage than we had last time,” Democratic Registrar of Voters Susan Gray said. 

Of the nearly 15,000 registered voters in Darien, 34 percent are registered as Republicans while 25 percent are registered as Democrats. The majority of voters, about 38 percent, are not unaffiliated with any particular party.

Though the majority of Darien voters traditionally favored Republican candidates, unofficial results for the governor’s race showed Democrat Ned Lamont earned the town’s popular vote by a slim margin.

The race for U.S. Senate between incumbent Richard Blumenthal and Republican challenger Leora Levy was another tight race in Darien, with Blumenthal narrowly beating out Levy.

Stevenson lost her race with only 41 percent of the total vote, but Darien voters overwhelmingly supported their former First Selectman. She appeared to earn the most votes of any federal government candidate on the Darien ballots. 

This story has been updated to add comments from Republican Registrar of Voters Cara Gately.