The town of Prospect led the state in the percentage of registered voters who turned out to the polls Nov. 3.
Prospect saw 58.7 percent of voters cast their ballot in the municipal election that featured a race at the top of the ballot between Republican incumbent Mayor Robert Chatfield and Democrat challenger Theresa Cocchiola Graveline, a longtime member of the Town Council.
Chatfield won his 20th term in office.
Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eileen Cranney said the voter turnout was driven by the fact that the town had two strong candidates for mayor.
“The turnout was really a tribute to the voters who were involved and engaged in the campaign. … When we, the DTC, present a viable candidate we can get out the vote from both the Democrats and the unaffiliated, who appreciate a challenging candidate and the option for a choice,” Cranney said.
According to data from the Secretary of State’s office Prospect saw a 46.2 percent turnout in the 2013 municipal election.
Town Council Chairman and Republican Town Committee Chairman Thomas Galvin said seeing more than half the registered voters turn out to vote is nothing new in town.
“Certainly having a pair of high profile and high quality candidates for the top office had something to do with it, but also that it was not that much higher than usual,” he said.
Galvin said over the last 10 years Prospect has typically seen a 54 to 56 percent turnout for mayoral elections.
In Naugatuck, the voter turnout was 37.4 percent, which was up from 28 percent in 2013.
The borough’s election also featured a competitive race for mayor between Republican and longtime Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi and Democrat N. Warren “Pete” Hess, who won the race.
Republican Registrar of Voters Matthew Katra felt the increase is in part due to the competitive campaigns.
“I think the higher number of voters who came to the polls was the result of two aggressive, organized, and well-run campaigns,” Katra said.
While the registrars try to get as many people registered and voting as possible, Katra said, turnout at the polls depends primarily on what the candidates do leading up to the election.
“As the Republican registrar, I do what I can to promote all eligible residents to cast their ballots. However, I think municipal election voter turnout is mostly determined by the mayoral race and how organized each candidate is at their GOTV (Get Out The Vote) efforts,” Katra said.
Beacon Falls saw a dip in voter turnout from 2013. Many of the candidates, including the top of the ticket, were running unopposed.
Voter turnout last week was 28.5 percent in Beacon Falls, compared to 48.2 percent in 2013
Democratic Town Committee Chairman and Selectman Peter Betkoski said having only one candidate run for first selectman led to lower voter turnout.
“It was a sufficient turnout for an uncompetitive election and we were pretty pleased with it. I think a lot of people didn’t come because there was no challenger,” Betkoski said.
Betkoski said the best way to bring voters to the polls is to engage them before the election.
“As you set up your two headquarters you poll all the registered voters and you call them and you get them out there.” Betkoski said.