By Genevieve Reilly

Voting across Fairfield continued at a steady pace today, with election officials reporting that nearly 15,000, or about 41 percent, of the registered electorate had cast ballots by evening.

With nearly 37,000 voters eligible to cast ballots in today's state and legislative elections, 14,974 had voted by about 5 p.m., according to the Registrars of Voters Office.

Largest turnout so far was in District 2 with 1,707 voters showing up, and the lowest was in District 5 with 1,147 voters.

Turnout earlier in the day had surprised some Fairfield election observers as higher than expected.

Morning turnout at the District 10 polling station was an indication of that early trend.

As of 11 a.m., 781 voters had cast ballots at Sherman School. Normally on election days, Moderator Virginia Rysz said, the district gets around 2,000 voters total.

"It's been very busy," Rysz said. "I would say more so than for a midterm election.

Voters are casting ballots for governor, a new state senator, and one of three local state representatives to the General Assembly.

"This is a big deal, especially this one," said James Giordano, a local CPA, as he was leaving Sherman School. "I don't like the existing regime and I think it needs improvement, and hopefully, my vote might help in this area."

Joe Pozarlik said he came to vote because of "the way the world is going." He said he feels compelled to vote because it will help affect "the outcome of the world for my children."

Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey, the Democratic candidate in the 133rd House District, was outside the polling station at Sherman, thanking residents for voting and answering questions for anyone who asked.

"I was at Warde this morning first thing, the turnout has been very steady," Vahey said. "I like to see that."

At old Town Hall, the registrars were busy fielding phone calls, many from residents wanting to know where to vote, and next door at Sullivan-Independence Hall, residents who weren't registered were getting enrolled and voting, all at the same time in the first-floor conference room.

Things were going relatively smoothly, though a few problems had been reported. At North Stratfield School, where the district, like many others in town, is split between state legislative districts, someone mixed up the signs at the check-in desk. That resulted in some voters initially being given the wrong ballots, but the issue was quickly fixed.

At the Fairfield Senior Center, one resident said a worker at the check-in desk told him to not "waste" his vote by voting for Joe Visconti, an independent candidate for governor who suspended his campaign over the weekend, but did not file a letter of withdrawal with the secretary of the state's office.

An email from the state's election division sent to all registrars and town clerks Monday stated that since Visconti did not officially withdraw from the race, his name must remain on the ballots, including sample ballots. By law, "no additional information about a candidate's status may be posted in a privacy booth or at the polls," the email states, and poll workers should not "add additional commentary to the voting process about this issue."

As the day wore on, "steady" seemed to the word most used to describe the turnout.

"We've been busy," said Jeanette McDonald, a moderator at District 5 at McKinley School. "It's been a steady crowd. Hopefully, it continues."

One of the checkers at McKinley, Patty Lucas, said she'd brought some magazines and a book to read during the slow times, but around 2 p.m., she said that slow period had failed to materialize.

For updates on balloting in Fairfield throughout the day, check the Fairfield Citizen at http://bit.ly/1hLugdA.