Primaries

It’s easy to think of the presidential primaries and caucuses as something less than serious.

The run-up to the actual voting seems to take several years. The procedures are complex. The rules are arcane. The schedule of events gives voters in some states the opportunity to eliminate candidates before voters in other states can weigh in. The debates are rarely informative. The polls are often misleading. And then there’s the money.

We think about the process the way we think about over-hyped sporting events or (so-called) reality shows on television.  Most of us won’t bother to vote.

In the end though, it is serious. The two people who are left standing after the national conventions will face each other in the general election in November. The winner will be our next president.

The Connecticut primary will be held on April 26th. It’ll be our chance to have a voice, our chance to affect the outcome.

In Connecticut, Democrats and Republicans have presidential primaries every four years as long as there are two or more candidates for a party’s nomination. If there’s only one candidate the party’s primary is cancelled.(That’s likely to happen when an incumbent president is running for a second term and has no challenger from the same party, but it could happen other times too.) Candidates from other parties and unaffiliated candidates aren’t included in the primaries, but they can earn a place on the November ballot by collecting signatures and filing petitions with Connecticut’s Secretary of State. Democrats will be able to vote in the Democratic primary and Republicans will be able to vote in the Republican primary. Voters who aren’t affiliated with either party won’t be able to vote in either primary. They’ll be able to vote in November, of course, but a lot of important choices will be made without them in April.

If you’re already registered to vote in Ridgefield and your registration shows that you’re a member of one of the two largest parties, you can show up at your regular polling place on the day of the primary and vote. New voters can register at any time before noon on April 25th, the day before the primary. Registered voters who are currently unaffiliated can change their registrations to include party membership and be eligible to vote in a primary.  The deadline for changes by mail is April 21st. The deadline for in-person changes is noon on April 25th. Absentee ballots will be available from the Town Clerk on April 5th.

We’ll have opportunities to contribute money to candidates, to knock on doors, to make phone calls, to stuff envelopes, to put up lawn signs, to wear campaign buttons, and to volunteer to drive our neighbors to the polls. Those things are optional. Each of us has the right to participate in the process. Each of us has the duty to participate in an informed way.

Tom Madden is Treasurer of the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee, which provides this column.