Registrar Addresses Questions About Tuesday's Polling
Despite false rumors of voting machine breakdowns and police being dispatched to keep errant vehicles from using Newtown Middle School playing fields for overflow parking, Democratic Registrar of Voters LeReine Frampton told The Newtown Bee that April 26 Presidential Primary and budget voting ran pretty smoothly.The Bee and poll workers also heard from a number of voters wondering why primary and budget voting could not all occur at a single location. Voters in two of Newtown's three polling precincts were forced to drive to two sites if they wanted to cast both primary and budget ballots.This story was corrected May 3 to properly identify who sets the date for Connecticut presidential primaries.
"I arrived at the middle school to overhear someone warning voters that our machine was broken, but we were just removing the full ballot tray," Ms Frampton said. "The scanners still work when we're changing out trays, it did not delay voting at all."
Others complained to poll workers about long lines, she said, but hourly tracking numbers did not show enough of a volume increase to cause undue wait times. However, Ms Frampton believes the fact that budget polling was restricted to only half of the middle school gym may have given voters the impression of longer lines or larger crowds waiting - versus years where budget voting occupies the entire space.
Ms Frampton said that traditionally, the annual budget referendum occurs at a single location. She said if budget voting was expanded to all district polling locations to provide greater convenience in years when primaries occur on the same day, it would increase expenses and complicate logistics.
And in the event of a budget failure, it would require host schools to hold additional referendums further interrupting their routines.
"In two of these schools we use their cafeterias for voting," Ms Frampton said. "If we had multiple budget votes, it would mean the schools would be without those facilities. We're very grateful to the schools and the staff for all the extra planning they have to do during these occasional primaries as it is."
Regarding the idea of centralizing all of Newtown's primary polling into a central location, Ms Frampton said that registrars across the state have been seeking authorization to do just that for several years.
"We'd prefer to have primary voting all at Reed School, and budget voting all at the middle school," she said. "But for the past two or three years, a proposal before the legislature to give registrars authority to change or centralize primary polling has died in committee."
The local registrar said she hopes that eventually, lawmakers in Hartford will provide local registrars with greater wherewithal to adjust primary polling locations to maximize voter convenience.
Ultimately, it is the state legislature thatÃÂ sets the date of presidential primaries in Connecticut, and the last two have fallen on the same date as Newtown's budget referendum, which has been long set on the fourth Tuesday of April by local charter.