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New Canaan Polls Slow as Romney Takes Command

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Even though the Republican presidential nomination appears to have been decided, Elena Schlegel of New Canaan wanted to come out and participate in the process.

“I feel like I should come out to vote,” Schlegel said as she stepped out of New Canaan High School on a windy Tuesday evening. “It’s not going to change anything, but it’s good to know I did something for the candidate I’m voting for.”

That candidate was the front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is viewed as a lock to take the GOP nomination and challenge President Barack Obama in November’s general election.

New Canaan registered Republicans who showed up to the polls for the primary did not have to wait long to cast votes as most eligible voters sat out. It might be understandable given that Romney appears to have locked up the bid, even though former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas were on the ballot.

In fact, Romney won New Canaan overwhelming with 702 votes. Paul got 60 votes; Gingrich, 53; Santorum, 25; and undeclared 18.

Richard Davies, head moderator of the New Canaan Republican Town Committee, said he was expecting about 12 percent of the town’s Republican voters to come out on Tuesday. Just 26 voters had cast ballots in the first hour polls were open. By 6 p.m., fewer than 650 people had voted at New Canaan High and Saxe Middle School. “It’s the first time we didn’t have any campaign volunteers outside,” he said.

Voter John Fusek, 51, of Pepper Lane, said the low turnout was “disappointing, but it’s understandable given that the race is essentially decided.” Fusek voted about 15 minutes before the polls closed because he felt a sense of civic duty.

Romney has the best qualities of any candidate, said Fusek, adding that he’s “reasonably confident” about Romney’s chances to beat Obama in the fall. “I think it will become increasingly obvious that [Romney] has the best balance of skills to push the country forward,” he said.

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