Ariela Lopez, Contributing Photographer

This spring, New Haveners will have not one but five days to vote in person in the upcoming presidential primary elections, thanks to the state’s new early voting opportunities.

Ahead of election day — which is on April 2 — residents can cast their ballots for the Democratic or Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, March 26, Wednesday, March 27, Thursday, March 28 and Saturday, March 30, Mayor Justin Elicker shared at a Friday press conference. The city’s early voting site, the New Haven Hall of Records, located in room G2 at 200 Orange St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The building will reserve ten parking spots for voters. 

“I think it’s really important for us to educate people, not just once, but many times about early voting, so people can get in the practice of understanding it,” Elicker said at the press conference.

Statewide victory for voting advocates

The implementation of an early voting program throughout Connecticut follows years of statewide efforts. In 2022, Connecticut voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow early voting in the state. With 86 percent of voters supporting the referendum, New Haven had the second highest share of “Yes” votes from any municipality in the state with 85 percent of voters supporting the referendum. The referendum passed statewide by a 20-point margin.

Patricia Rossi, who leads the New Haven chapter of the League of Women Voters, told the News that the LWV and other voting rights advocacy organizations have been working to bring early voting to Connecticut for over 10 years.

Following the referendum, the Connecticut state legislature passed early voting legislation in 2023 allowing up to 14 days of early voting for the general election and less for smaller contests such as special elections and primaries. The legislation required each municipality to establish at least one early voting site. Municipalities were each allocated a one-time grant of about $10,500 to set up an early voting site.

While Rossi acknowledged the limitations of this allocated funding, she said she believes that having more than one early voting site is ultimately ideal.

“I think it would have been better to have more than one in a city the size of New Haven, and especially since the chosen location is 200 Orange St., which is not easy for everyone to get to and there’s not easy parking down there,” Rossi said. 

The one early voting site contrasts starkly with election day, where New Haveners will head to the polls at 33 different locations.

This presidential primary will be the first of three elections this year where Connecticut voters can participate in in-person early voting. New Haven will offer seven days of early voting ahead of the Aug. 13 primary elections, and 14 days ahead of the Nov. 5 general election.

Many days to vote, few people to vote for

Although incumbent President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have secured the delegates they need to be named the nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, Connecticut’s primary ballots will also feature several alternative candidates. 

Marianne Williamson, Rep. Dean Phillips and Cenk Uygur will be listed alongside Biden on the Democratic ballot. Williamson suspended her campaign in February and Phillips and Uygur suspended theirs in March. On the Republican ballot, Trump is joined by Florida Gov. Ron Desantis ’01, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Ryan Binkley, all of whom have also dropped out of the race. Before suspending her campaign, Haley beat Trump by a four-point margin in Vermont’s primary on Super Tuesday but lost in neighboring New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Voters from both parties will also have the option to vote “Uncommitted.” This year, many Democrats have voted for “Uncommitted” to express dissatisfaction with Biden’s candidacy and his response to the war in Gaza

On March 13, a group of Connecticut activists met in Hartford to announce a campaign encouraging voters to vote “Uncommitted” in the upcoming primary.

“This effort here that we have comprised and are putting together here today is about hearing the voices of people across this country and this state who are not having their voices heard,” said Abdul Osmanu, a member of the Hamden Town Council who is involved with Connecticut’s Democratic Socialists of America. Osmanu previously introduced a resolution in Hamden calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

At the event, Osmanu and pro-ceasefire advocates restated their support for a ceasefire and emphasized their frustration with Biden’s current approach to the war.

Biden has previously expressed support for a six-week ceasefire but has stopped short of calling for a “permanent” ceasefire, which many American voters support, according to polls

Unaffiliated voters in New Haven who want to partake in early voting for the primary election must “enroll” in a party by noon on Monday. Voters who register to vote with a party by noon on Monday, April 1 will be eligible to vote on April 2.

On primary day — which is Tuesday, April 2 — voters who did not vote early can cast their ballots from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at polling locations around the city.

Ariela Lopez covers City Hall and City Politics. Originally from New York City, she is a first-year in Branford College.