HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut appeared headed toward an expected 75 to 80 percent registered voter turnout Tuesday, with election officials reporting steady streams of people flowing into polling places to cast ballots for president, U.S. Senate and other contests.
There were long lines at some voting places including West Hartford, where people had to wait an hour or longer to vote, said Av Harris, a spokesman for the secretary of the state's office. He said the number of polling places there was reduced and there wasn't enough staff, but state and local officials brought in more help.
At the Moriarty School in Norwich, 800 of the 2,100 people assigned to vote there had cast ballots as of 1:45 p.m., moderator Daphne Slopack said.
"It's been very, very steady," Slopack said, adding that 30 people were waiting in line when she opened the doors at 6 a.m.
President Barack Obama was expected to take the state's seven electoral votes in his re-election bid against Republican Mitt Romney. The last Republican to win Connecticut's presidential vote was George H.W. Bush in 1988.
In one of the most closely watched and costly U.S. Senate races in the country, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and Republican Linda McMahon, a former wrestling executive, were in a tight race to succeed retiring independent Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Nearly 2.1 million people were registered to vote in the state. State officials expected turnout to be comparable to past presidential elections, which typically have drawn 75 to 80 percent of registered voters.
Polls opened Tuesday just a day after power was restored to the remaining voting places that were left in the dark because of Superstorm Sandy. Harris said it didn't appear outages and other effects of the storm were impeding voters, although some people who haven't been able to return to their damaged homes had to make special efforts to get to the polls.
Jody Eisemann, a 60-year-old acupuncturist, said the bottom floor of her house in Fairfield was destroyed by flooding. She came from New York's Westchester County, where she is staying with her brother, to vote in a Connecticut neighborhood that is still filled with downed trees, utility trucks and National Guard troops.
"It's a big pain in the neck," she said.
Elections officials reported some confusion about which polling places people should use, because some voters were affected by redistricting that was based on new census figures.
Franklin Eichacker, 87, of Glastonbury, wasn't confused about for whom he was voting. Outside Town Hall, he said he cast his ballots for Republicans because the national debt and deficit spending have gotten out of control.
"Republicans are more fiscally responsible," said the retired state workplace safety worker. "I don't think you should borrow and spend borrowed money."
But fellow Glastonbury resident Jennifer Vigue supported Obama, Murphy and other Democrats. She said Obama "needs more time to do what he needs to do."
"When he got into office, we were caught up in a lot of different things, with the wars and the way the economy was," said Vigue, 42, a school bus driver and customer service worker. "I think he just needs a little more time."
National Republicans and Democrats were battling over two of the state's five U.S. House seats.
Republican state Sen. Andrew Roraback and Democratic former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty were vying to win northwestern Connecticut's 5th Congressional District seat, now held by Murphy. In the 4th District, which includes wealthy Fairfield County, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes faced a challenge from Republican Steve Obsitnik.
Also seeking re-election were Democratic U.S. Reps. John Larson, Joe Courtney and Rosa DeLauro.
All the state's legislative seats were up for grabs, with Democrats expected to retain majorities in the House and Senate. Voters were also deciding local ballot questions on municipal spending proposals.
Some voters said they were glad the election was nearly over, because they were tired of all the negative political ads.
Paul Kubala, 71, of Columbia, would not say how he voted. The retired lab analyst for a wastewater treatment plant said the ads in the U.S. Senate race were "disgusting, absolutely disgusting."
"You got this Linda McMahon and this Chris Murphy and even the president and this other guy, all they do is just go back and forth slinging mud at each other," he said. "Tell me what you really did positively and what you are going to do."
Associated Press writers Pat Eaton-Robb in Columbia, Susan Haigh in Norwich, John Christoffersen in Fairfield and Michael Melia in Hartford contributed to this report.