ORANGE - The town joined an elite group of communities in the state last week.

Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz presented Orange First Selectman Jim Zeoli with the state’s Democracy Cup Award for the highest voter turnout on Election Day for a mid-size town.

Orange had a 58.9 percent turnout of voters

This was the town of Orange’s first recognition in the annual Democracy Cup. The communities of Bridgewater and East Haven were also recognized for the first time in small-town and large-town categories, respectively.

For the second year in a row, the city of Stamford was recognized in the city category.

“Thank you for being here to celebrate a true honor - the highest voter turnout for the 2009 municipal elections for the mid-size category,” Bysiewicz said to a room full of campaign workers including registrars, poll workers and town committee chairman.

“This is excellent turnout for a municipal election Bysiewicz said.

“It really is quite an honor to have received this. It shows that the people of Orange truly care about the direction of their town. They felt it was important to exercise their right to vote,” Zeoli said.

“This year, voters in Orange showed that democracy is important,” State Sen. Gayle Slossberg said. “I’m happy that Orange voters have taken an active role in their local democracy. The town should be very proud of this accomplishment and the example of strong citizenship that it sends to our future generations. Congratulations to each and every Orange resident for this achievement,” Slossberg said.

“To put things in perspective in 2008 for the presidential election, statewide average voter turnout was 80.5 percent,” Bysiewicz said.

“Last year’s Election Day turnout was less but that is typical for municipal years. Statewide our average last year was 36.4 percent.”

Bysiewicz said the Democracy Cup has been co-sponsored by the East Haddam Civic Association since 2000. It was created as a way to encourage voter participation in elections.

Bysiewicz said the number of registered voters in Connecticut is 2,000,000 - the highest total number of registered voters in a non-presidential year.

Each town awarded the Democracy Cup will be able to host and display the trophy through the next years November elections