Early voting is coming to Connecticut, but voter registrars raise concerns
Connecticut voters could be able to go to the polls up to two weeks early this year. But Thursday, hundreds of local voter registrars warned state election officials that they're not ready.
Local election officials grilled the Secretary of the State's Office at the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut spring conference in Southbury. Early voting is slated to start this fall, but lawmakers still haven't passed legislation.
"The issues with registrars right now is the unknown," said Timothy DeCarlo, Waterbury's Republican registrar. "We don't know what may make it into the bill."
Lawmakers already rejected 18 days of early voting. Now, two options are on the table – 14 days and 10 days.
Registrars are especially worried about finding enough poll workers.
"A lot of people take the day off from work to come in and work on Election Day," said Glastonbury Republican registrar Lisbeth Becker.
They're also raising concerns about having enough money to pay poll workers for more days and to train new workers.
"$5 million doesn't cut it whatsoever," said Ron Malloy, Stamford's Democratic registrar. "I don't know who – how they got that number."
Newly elected Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas said she is doubling down on recruiting efforts for poll workers and pushing legislators for more money.
"I've been saying since Day One to the legislature, don't pass a bill if there's not full funding attached," she said.
On Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont also assured towns that the state will help pay for early voting.
"Probably," he said. "We didn't get a specific request. It's not in our budget, but that's why we sit down right now with the legislative leaders."
But the issues go beyond staffing. Connecticut's voting tabulators are close to 20 years old. Thomas plans to replace the machines soon with state bond money. The state's current vendor said the new generation of machines can count votes much faster and include added security features.
"An image of the ballot is actually being stored on the memory cards, so you have not only the physical storage of the ballots, but you now have the digital archive of the ballots as well," said Jeff Silvestro, president of LHS Associates.
Silvestro said the archived images cannot be accessed outside the tabulator, but he said the feature can be disabled.

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