Ask The Registrar – December 2022

What’s next on Early Voting? New voting machines? Redistricting in 2023? Ask The Registrar – Your place for answers about voting and local elections in Stratford. By Registrar James Simon (D).

Q1: In the November election, we approved an early voting amendment to the Connecticut Constitution. What’s next?

That’s the question that a lot of Registrars of Voters asked at a Dec. 13 regional meeting. The short answer is that nobody knows until the state Legislature approves a specific plan to implement early voting.

Many registrars are imagining perhaps one week of early voting being available at a centralized location, like Town Hall. Whatever system is used, great care needs to be given to protecting ballots that are completed and submitted in the extended early voting. Towns also have to decide how to pay for multiple election workers to staff the extra polling location hours.

Q2: When would the expanded hours start?

The Registrars debated the merits of launching the extended voting system for the November 2023 election, which is just for municipal offices and the turnout will be less. Or for the 2024 presidential primary. Or wait for the 2024 presidential election, which would apply maximum stress and test whatever system is devised.

Again, it is up to legislators, who will hopefully confer with the state’s new top election official, CT Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas, and with the Town Clerks and Registrars who actually manage local voting and absentee ballots.

Q3. What are some of the other election issues in Connecticut?

Many of the registrars at the Dec. 13 meeting noted that while Connecticut has strong election integrity protections in place, the state is woefully behind in other areas. In this digital age, Connecticut still requires Registrars to manually type the voting results on Election night into an Election Management System and ship the results to Hartford. Other states simply insert magnetic cards from the voting tabulators and have the results automatically uploaded, thereby bypassing any data entry errors.

Meanwhile, when you vote and place your ballot into the Election Tabulator, you are using a 15+-year-old machine that needs to be updated and replaced. Towns often scour for used parts since the machines are not manufactured any longer. The decision on a new machine was put off until a new Secretary of State was elected last month.

Q4. With all of the national worries about election integrity, how could the voting process be made more transparent?

Stratford is ahead of the pack in one area. When you arrive at a polling station, your name is checked off a list of all voters in your district — and you also are checked off electronically in a laptop-style poll book. The poll book results are immediately posted online. The political parties – and the public – can see, in real-time, who has voted and who has not.

Many towns do not yet have such a system and wonder how they will pay for it. Stratford has used the poll books, with success, for several elections.

Q5. I read that all towns have to adjust their voting district lines due to the 2020 Census. When will Stratford act?

The districts are rebalanced every 10 years; each of the 10 districts must be within 5% of the others in terms of population. The Town Council appoints a Redistricting Commission, composed of Town Council members and the two Registrars of Voters, to revise the lines.

In the past, the commission has acted in late February or early March. The revised district lines are expected to be in effect in November 2023 for the Town Council and land use board elections.

Read previous Ask The Registrar questions and answers. 

MORE QUESTIONS? PLEASE SEND THEM TO REGISTRAR JIM SIMON; [email protected]. This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford. (Vol. 2, No. 12; Dec. 2022)



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