First-ever Early Voting runs smoothly, but is CT ready for November?

Election leaders said the first-ever Early Voting trial run went smoothly.

John Craven

Apr 2, 2024, 8:52 PM

Updated 11 days ago

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Tuesday is Connecticut’s presidential primary, but thousands of voters didn’t wait until Election Day. Instead, they took advantage of the state’s first-ever Early Voting period.
Election leaders said the trial run went smoothly, but there are concerns about whether towns will be ready for a crush of voters in November.
“MY FIRST CHANCE EVER"
For the first time in history, Connecticut voters could go to the polls early last week. Most said it was a smooth process.
“I would see my friends all over the country voting early, and this is my first chance ever to vote early,” said Norwalk voter Tina Duryea.
Many said it was more convenient, especially for commuters.
“A lot of people have trouble getting down on Election Day,” said Mike Parenteau, another Norwalk voter.
POSSIBLE CHANGES
As expected, turnout was low because Joe Biden and Donald Trump have already clinched their parties’ nominations. Just over 18,000 people voted early – 12,697 Democrats and 5,365 Republicans – according to an unofficial state tally.
“Some answered the call to help their town test the system,” said Democratic Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas.
Thomas says most things went well, but money is an issue. Some local registrars said that Early Voting required more staff than they expected.
“And then, of course, if you’re Hamden or Stamford or Norwalk etc... – Hartford – you need many more than three people,” Thomas told reporters. “We do anticipate making some recommendations to lawmakers. We have a debrief call with the registrars scheduled for tomorrow.”
Thomas is asking state lawmakers for an extra $5 million for the November elections, which could attract record turnout across the nation. But it’s unclear if they will get the money.
“We’ve been pretty good about providing towns and cities with additional revenue over the last couple of years,” Connecticut House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D-East Hartford) said last week. “So, at some point, they need to just figure this out as well.”
Not only will turnout be much higher in November, but Early Voting will run a lot longer, too. This time around, it only lasted four days. But in the general election, it runs for 14 days.
ELECTION SECURITY
Top Republicans believe the focus should be on ballot security, especially after Bridgeport’s ballot stuffing scandal.
“They had three subsequent elections and it appears that, in all of the subsequent elections –where obviously there was much more scrutiny on the drop boxes, there are cameras pointed at the drop boxes – it didn't seem to change a thing,” said state Sen. Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott).
Republicans are proposing a photo ID requirement, including for vote-by-mail. Democrats have countered with a proposal to install live cameras on every ballot drop box in Connecticut, as well as a new state board that could take over municipal elections.
As for Early Voting, Thomas said it’s just as secure as Election Day. When someone arrives at a polling location, workers check the state’s Centralized Voter Registration System to make sure they haven’t already voted. In addition, ballots aren’t counted immediately. To keep them secure, ballots are sealed in an envelope, locked in a safe and not counted until Election Day itself.


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