Election Day Irony: Registrars Race Responsible For Most ‘Spoiled’ Ballots
In election years like 2020, when voters are asked to endorse either of the two unopposed Registrar of Voters candidates, it is ironic that the act of casting those votes is actually responsible for the most “spoiled” ballots.
During a recent interview with The Newtown Bee, Democratic Registrar LeReine Frampton mentioned that relatively small but interesting anomaly. In a follow-up statement, she expanded the explanation.
“State statute requires every town to have a Democratic Registrar and a Republican Registrar. And when you look at the ballot, there is only one column between the heavy black lines,” she said. “This means you can only vote for one candidate.”
But an inordinate proportion of absentee ballots are spoiled because so many voters end up voting for both registrar candidates.
Frampton said those who make that error at the polls cause the ballot to be bounced back — technically referred to as a overvote.
“This is called a spoiled ballot,” Frampton said. “The Registrar of Voters race causes more spoiled ballots than any other race including local races in odd years.”
The race for Democratic and Republican registrars is really over once the primary (if any) is over. So why are they even on the ballot?
“Statute allows for a minor party Registrar,” Frampton explained. “If a minor party wants a Registrar in [any particular] town, the minor candidate needs to receive more votes than the Democrat or Republican. In that rare instance, that town will have three Registrars.”
This has happened in Canaan and Hartford in recent years, she said.
To avoid spoiling your ballot, Frampton and her GOP counterpart, Registrar Erica Canfield, ask voters to pay close attention and “Please only vote for one Registrar.”
“If you sent in an absentee ballot and voted for both registrars, do not worry, your vote will count in every race except for the Registrar of Voter race,” Frampton said. “This does not void your entire ballot.”
The officials also remind voters that local registrars are responsible for all aspects of the election except for issuing absentee ballots. Once absentee ballots are returned to the legally appointed administrator — local Town Clerks — and checked in, registrars then verify and ensure that the books at the polls show who voted by absentee and verify that the number envelope issued to each voter matches.
The registrars must be non-biased in performing their duties,” Frampton said. “Either registrar can and should assist anyone that enters their office regardless of their party. We are dedicated to holding fair, honest, and legal elections. We enforce laws equally to all parties. We are both certified registrars. We look forward to serving our community for the next four years.”
The registrars have been invited to review the voting process, and to remind those planning to vote in person about Election Day logistics, in the next segment of The Newtown Bee’s Friday Forums at noon on Friday, October 23. If scheduling issues prevent that appearance, the forum will be held at noon on Friday, October 30.