A couple of tight and closely watched political horse races will play out during one of the upcoming dog days of summer as local Democrats and Republicans gear up for an August 14 primary. Democratic Registrar of Voters LeReine Frampton and GOP Registrar Karin Aurelia, herself a primary candidate, have been busy qualifying a centralized polling location, printing placards to remind voters to turn out or file absentee ballots, as well as preparing a special evening voter registration session.
The registrars, with the approval of Connecticut’s secretary of the state, will host all primary voting in the Reed Intermediate School cafetorium on Tuesday, August 14, from 6 am to 8 pm. And Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia is offering absentee ballots for eligible voters who will not be available in town to vote on that day.
Absentee ballots will be available up to August 13, and a special Saturday absentee voting session is set for August 11 from 9 am to noon. The registrars will hold a special registration session Tuesday, July 31, for voters to check their eligibility and for new voters to register to participate in the primary.
Ms Frampton reminds voters already registered with a party that it is too late to switch affiliations, but it is not too late for qualified residents to join a party. Also, any Newtown resident who will be 18 years old on or before November 6 is eligible to register with either the Democratic or Republican party, and will be permitted to vote in the August 14 primary.
The local Republicans are also seeing a spike in activity with candidates coming to town to court votes. State Representative and Fifth Congressional District contender Andrew Roraback made the first of three planned stops at the Inn at Newtown July 23 to chat with supporters and party faithful, primarily about his platform related to attracting and retaining jobs.
Rep Roraback will return to participate in a four-way Fifth District GOP debate at Edmond Town Hall along with challengers Mark Greenberg, Lisa Wilson-Foley, and Justin Bernier, Thursday, August 2, at 7 pm, and will be back to the Edmond Town Hall lower gym for a public met and greet Sunday, August 5, at 4:30 pm.
Republican Senate candidate Christopher Shays was also in town recently meeting constituents at the Blue Colony diner, and chatting with the owner of the Stone River Grille about small business concerns.
The only local race on the August 14 primary ballot is for the GOP registrar’s post, with the incumbent Ms Aurelia challenging the local Republicans’ endorsed candidate, Carey Schierloh. Ms Frampton is the sole Democratic nominee for registrar, and she will presumably remain unchallenged on the November ballot.
Local and state Democrats will also be asked to choose between Representative Chris Murphy and his senate race challenger, former secretary of the state Susan Bysiewicz. Ms Bysiewicz is embroiled in controversy after airing her first statewide campaign commercial, in which she mistakenly refers to hedge fund and big pharma contributions that were accepted in 2010 not by her challenger, but by New York Congressman Scott Murphy.
Newtown Democrats are also being asked to endorse a Fifth District congressional candidate. State Representative and former House Speaker Chris Donovan, Dan Roberti, and Elizabeth Esty are all seeking the congressional seat.
Rep Donovan is also facing controversy following news May 31 that the FBI charged his congressional campaign fundraiser, Robert Braddock, Jr, with illegally concealing the source of two $10,000 contributions. The donations allegedly were given in exchange for help in killing tobacco legislation before the state legislature last spring. Rep Donovan subsequently fired Mr Braddock and Josh Nassi, his campaign manager.
Ms Frampton and Ms Aurelia both agreed to hold all primary polling in Reed Intermediate School August 14 after learning that three of the four local district polling locations were not available. After being asked by state officials to find alternate locations for polling at Edmond Town Hall, the middle school, and Head O’ Meadow School, it was determined that no such alternate locations within those facilities are available with the appropriate accessibility for all voters.
“The only other possible location at the middle school has no handicapped parking or access, the old courtroom at Edmond Town Hall is too small for two polling stations, and Head O’ Meadow has no handicapped access or secure storage for us to keep voting equipment,” Ms Frampton said. “But there is plenty of room for both Democratic and Republican polling stations for each of the four districts at Reed School.”