Saturday Primary Voting Session Set As Lawmaker Rails Against SOTS
As Newtown officials approached the 3,500 mark for absentee ballot applications issued for the upcoming presidential primary, State Representative and Newtown delegation member JP Sredzinski issued a press advisory railing against Connecticut’s Democratic Secretary of the State.
In a late morning press advisory August 4, the Republican lawmaker, whose 112th District includes numerous southern Newtown neighborhoods, suggested the absentee balloting process that has been exponentially supersized due to the COVID-19 pandemic is “in chaos.”
To help protect the public, voting officials, and poll workers from virus transmission at polling places, Governor Ned Lamont issued an executive order authorizing “no fault” absentee voting for the primary. After determining that order was constitutional and at least one attempt to block it failed in court, the plan to make absentee ballots available to every registered Democrat and Republican in Connecticut commenced.
Expanding state law that restricts conditions under which voters can claim illness as a reason for not voting in person, the order permits absentee voting in the primary if a registered state voter is concerned about contracting or spreading the novel coronavirus.
As previously reported in The Newtown Bee, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is aggressively supporting the practice, as are numerous other officials, from the governor to many local voting officials.
However, Rep Sredzinski suggested that 202 voters in Newtown and 20,000 registered voters statewide who requested an absentee ballot for the August 11 primary may not get one.
The lawmaker blamed Merrill, whom he contended “unilaterally chose to use an out-of-state mail service to get ballots to voters, restricting the number of ballots local town clerks could have.”
At the eleventh hour, Sredzinski said, the vendor failed to mail the ballots to the voters and Merrill reportedly told the affected towns it was their responsibility, not the vendor’s, to get those ballots out to voters.
“This kind of agency dysfunction is unacceptable and harms the integrity of our electoral process, and could lead to mass voter confusion. We need a full review of this process,” Sredzinski said.
Town Clerk Debbie Aurelia Halstead assured The Bee that the 202 absentee forms in question went out the morning of August 5.
Saturday Voting Session
By around 10 am August 5, Newtown’s registrars reported 2,329 local Democrats and 957 Republicans had submitted absentee applications, with dozens more expected in the coming days.
To help reduce the volume of voters casting ballots next week, Halstead has scheduled special hours for primary absentee voting on Saturday, August 8, from 9 am until noon, at the Town Clerk’s office in the Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.
Any qualified registered voter may vote by absentee ballot if unable to vote in person due to:
*COVID-19 (all voters are able to apply, pursuant to Executive Order 7QQ).
*Illness or physical disability.
*Absence from town during voting hours.
*Religious beliefs which forbid secular activity.
*Active US military service.
*Service as an election official at a polling place other than their own polling place.
Halstead is asking anyone voting in the Saturday session to download and have an absentee application ready before coming to the office.
Download the form by CLICKING HERE
For additional information, contact the Town Clerk’s office at 203-270-4210.
Voting In Person?
Newtown’s registrars also reached out to anyone planning to vote in person on August 11. They offered these reminders:
*Masks are required.
*Only voters and workers are allowed in the polls.
*Voters may use their own pens, but know that red will not work.
*Voters may bring something to write on, like a book, to avoid voting in the booth, if they choose.
*Voters are expected to sanitize upon entering and leaving the polling place; volunteers will be on site with a spray bottle.
*Occupancy limits and social distancing will be observed, and loitering will not be permitted.
“Remember we have to keep the poll workers and voters safe,” the registrars stated in an August 5 press advisory. “If you cannot wear a mask we can help, just ask the worker stationed outside.
“Please remember our poll workers start at 5 am and work until we close everything down,” the registrars added. “Nothing is their fault, so please do not blame them. They have to follow the laws. If there is a problem, the moderator can contact the [registrars] office for assistance.”
All voting for the primary is at Newtown High School, 12 Berkshire Road. Locations within the building corresponding to individual voting districts will be clearly marked. Voters are asked to check their own enrollment before arriving at the polls.
On August 6, Merrill announced she was working with utility crews statewide to restore power to polling locations for Tuesday’s primary; Newtown voters should be unhampered by that storm-related issue, as the high school has power.
Voting information and status can be found by CLICKING HERE