Election Day lessons

Even as votes were still being counted in Connecticut on Tuesday night, a couple of lessons had become evident.

In a town of steady habits, Groton, the Charter Revision Commission and those who backed its call for radical change in government had overreached. The proposal that called for overhauling how Groton is governed was defeated in all seven voting precincts.

Ultimately the changes proposed gave voters too many reasons to vote against the initiative. If you did not like the idea of dissolving the Representative Town Meeting you had a reason to vote no. So too, if you did not like extending the terms of Town Council members from two to four years, while at the same time strengthening its power by eliminating the oversight of the RTM.

Those focused on maintaining quality schools were concerned about the proposed charter change that would have created a mandatory annual budget referendum, with separate votes on the education and municipal budgets. Fears that education resources would become an annual target were not unfounded.

More popular, we suspect, was the idea of creating a Finance Board, but even here doubts were sowed because the proposed board would have only had an advisory role.

Supporters of major charter changes — an initiative opposed by us editorially — got the vote they desired and the verdict was clear.

A statewide takeaway of Tuesday’s election is the need for Connecticut to join with many other states and provide for early voting. While it was heartening to see the large voting turnouts in our region and throughout much of the state, one had to wonder how many of those voters would have taken advantage of early voting had it been available.

Connecticut again witnessed Election Day controversy. Hundreds of voters in the college towns of New Haven and Mansfield sought to take advantage of the state’s same-day registration law, only to be forced to wait hours while election officials dealt with those requests and the crush of a heavy voter turnout. Some did not register by the 8 p.m. poll closing but were still allowed to vote. Republicans have filed a legal challenge.

Early voting would require a state constitutional change. Proposed several years ago, the poorly worded question was defeated. The General Assembly should again present a clear early-voting question to voters.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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