GREENWICH — Prognosticators said voter turnout would be high this year in Greenwich.
And come Election Day, it turned out that those predictions were correct.
As of 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, the voter turnout was 84.81 percent in Greenwich, according to the town website. A total of 35,248 voters cast ballots in town — of the 41,560 eligible voters. That included the thousands of absentee ballots.
Even with the heavy turnout, the voting was running smoothly throughout the day, with no major issues reported to the Greenwich Police Department or the registrars of voters as the thousands of voters in town headed to the 12 polling places to make a choice: Joe Biden or Donald Trump.
“Things have been running like a Swiss watch,” said Monique Bluhm, an assistant moderator for District 5 and 5A at Riverside School.
It was a “wonderful day with no serious equipment malfunctions and orderly voters,” Republican Registrar of Voters Fred DeCaro said.
Greenwich exceeded its voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election before 6 p.m. That year, Greenwich won the Democracy Cup from the state for it high turnout of 82.93 percent.
The town employed 50 additional poll workers to count the absentee ballots on Tuesday at Greenwich High School. Under the supervision of Democratic Registrar of Voters Mary Hegarty, the count was completed before the polls closed at 8 p.m.
According to Town Clerk Carmella Budkins, the town had received 15,438 absentee ballots by the end of Monday. All ballots received in the mail or put in the drop boxes on Tuesday will be counted on Wednesday.
No ballots received after Tuesday, however, will be counted.
And Greenwich went to the polls with tighter voter registration numbers than ever before. According to the Registrar of Voters, as of Tuesday morning there were 41,601 registered voters in town. That list includes 15,906 people listed as unaffiliated, 12,595 Republican voters and 12,320 Democrats, showing a further closing of the gaps between the parties.
Those were not, however, the final voter registration numbers as Connecticut allows for Election Day registration and those numbers were subject to change on Tuesday.
Christina Kyriakos said that her friends who live across Europe are counting on her to “do the right thing,” and vote for Joe Biden, she said Tuesday as she headed to the polls in Greenwich.
The 31-year-old voted for all Democrats at her polling place at Town Hall, she said.
“It aligns with my values and my beliefs, and I think, how the direction of the country is going,” she said. “I think they are in the best position to be able to support that.”
The most important issue for Kyriakos is the next president’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing racial inequalities.
“Coming from recently being in Europe, a lot of feedback I’m getting is they’re counting on my vote here,” she said.
Just before 6 p.m., Ryan Fazio, the Republican candidate for state Senate, stood under a tent in the parking lot, as just a few after-work voters trickled into the polling location at Old Greenwich School.
“I feel great,” said Fazio, who made the rounds to different polling locations throughout the day. “The reception has been really great. People are engaged and I’ve been feeling the love.” He is challenging challenging incumbent Democrat Alex Kasser.
With Fazio was Debra Hess, a Representative Town Meeting member and supporter. She started her shift at Old Greenwich at 5:45 a.m. and – other than a short break – had been there much of the day. When Hess first arrived in the morning, she said the line nearly stretched across the street.
“I’ve never seen it like I saw it today,” Hess said.
The polling place was quiet at Old Greenwich School at around noon. But state Rep. Steve Meskers, who stood outside at a table with other Democrats, said it was busy when he arrived to vote early in the morning.
He said he waited for about 30 minutes in a line of about 200 to 300 voters, who turned up at the school at around 7:15 a.m. For Meskers, the long lines signified that people are anxious about this highly contested election and that they want to make sure their votes are counted.
“Not surprisingly, I voted for myself,” said Meskers, a Democrat incumbent in the 150th House District.
“I think at this point in time, given the state of the country, I didn’t see that I had any other logical choice but to vote for the (Democratic) ticket because I want to see us restore a level of civility and level of decency to the country,” he said.
Fiona Venema said she made it a priority to vote in-person on election day so that there would be no question about whether her vote was counted.
“I voted in person because Trump said there would be issues with mail in ballots,” she said. “I didn’t want there to be any question about my vote, so I came in physically to vote.”
The Greenwich woman, who voted for Joe Biden, said she has lived abroad for many years and said she’s sent her vote in on many occasions by absentee ballot.
“Sometimes I wondered if they received it or not. I never got a letter saying, your vote counted, or anything,” she said. “So, that’s why I’m here physically.”
Dozens of people headed into Central Middle School in Greenwich, past two campaign tables, to vote in-person.
A small crowd gathered around U.S. Rep. Jim Himes at about 8:45 a.m. when he arrived to vote with his daughter, Linley Himes, an 18-year-old first-time voter.
“I voted Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket because this really is an existential election about who this country is going to tell itself, and the world, that we are,” Jim Himes said.
“Are we a country of decency and opportunity or are we a country of bigotry and division?” he said. “ This vote is maybe more important than any other vote I’ve cast.”
Himes’ daughter said she envisioned two starkly different world, depending on the winner of the presidential race.
“I think there’s going to be definitely some chaos if Trump wins and I think we’re all going to have to really reassess what it means to be an American and how to move forward,” she said.
By 9:30 a.m., state Sen. Alex Kasser – who is running for reelection in the 36th Senate District – had already been to at five voting locations.
“I voted row A, all the way,” she said, referring to the Democrats.
Kasser said she voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to restore the principles of democracy, to ensure every person has the right to vote safely and securely and to have votes accurately counted. She also voted for Biden, she said, to elect a president who she can trust to tell the truth and put the interests of the country first.
If reelected, Kasser said she hopes to work on economic issues and toward updating Connecticut’s election laws.
Tristan Nygaard was among the youngest political participants outside Greenwich High School, standing in front of a table supporting local Republican candidates.
The 15-year-old was handing out fliers with information about Republican candidates and encouraging everyone to vote, no matter their political stance.
If he were old enough to vote, he would support Donald Trump because, “the economy has been up, jobs have been up … unemployment is down,” Nygaard said. “And he was doing great up until the coronavirus, which kind of brought down what he was doing the whole three years before. He certainly could have handled it better, but I certainly think he did the best that he could.”
Just after 10:30 a.m., Gov. Ned Lamont pulled up behind Greenwich High School with his wife, public information officer and security detail in tow as he prepared to cast his ballot at his hometown polling place.
Lamont showed up to vote and talked with a small group of reporters outside the school’s performing arts center.
“I voted for the person I endorsed over a year ago, so I voted for Joe Biden,” he said. Lamont said Biden represents the best values of this country.
“The difference between Joe Biden’s America and Donald Trump’s America is stark,” Lamont said. “I think people have a real choice to make.”
The governor said he planned to visit to six more polling places Tuesday to thank voters for exercising their democratic rights – and to remind them that their vote matters.
Staff Writer Justin Papp contributed to this story.