Ask the Registrar

Your place for answers about voting and local elections in Stratford.

June Edition

By Registrar James Simon (D)

Pricey primaries?  Am I registered with a major party? Getting students involved with elections?

Q: Is it really worth spending town money to hold a primary election on Aug. 9th when so few people will show up?

Primary elections are important because they allow candidates who do not get endorsed by their party or show enough support at party conventions to collect signatures and give party voters a choice. Both major political parties are holding primaries Aug. 9th. All 10 regular polling locations will be open. Turnout is always lower than in a November general election.

You must be a party member in order to vote in a primary election. It is too late to switch from one major party to the other to qualify to vote. However, if you are registered as Unaffiliated, you can change your registration, join one of the major parties until noontime Aug. 8th, and vote in its primary. See https://voterregistration.ct.gov/OLVR

Q: Have I heard of any of these people who will be on the ballot?

That depends on how closely you follow politics.  Several Republican candidates are seeking the party’s nomination to run against U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) in November; multiple candidates also are seeking the GOP nomination for Secretary of State.

On the Democratic side, party members will choose among candidates for Secretary of State and state Treasurer. Stratford voters in Districts 3 (Johnson House) and 4 (Franklin School) also will choose among candidates for state Senate District 23. For a full list of the many candidates, see https://ballotpedia.org/Democratic_Party_primaries_in_Connecticut,_2022 and  https://ballotpedia.org/Republican_Party_primaries_in_Connecticut,_2022

Q: I am not sure I am registered with a party. How can I find out?

You can come see us, Room 117 in Town Hall; call us at 203-385-4048; or look it up yourself at: https://portaldir.ct.gov/sots/LookUp.aspx?fbclid=IwAR1yUL06V2ci3TmhQDbOL-b0tv4nOnowc38XOINlE6L33A3aJ5ifObNeX3k

Q: Does your office do anything to encourage students to register to vote and get involved with election?

Under state law, all Registrars of Voters must go to each high school at least once a year and encourage Seniors to register to vote.  This year, we registered more than 180 students total.

In addition, all the Juniors at Stratford and Bunnell High Schools got an early taste of voting issues – and a chance to use the town’s professional voting machines. This month we conducted a workshop in more than a dozen Civics classes on why voting matters, how candidates are chosen, how to campaign (whether for Senior Class President or for U.S. President), and what they should expect in casting a ballot.

We then set up the town’s professional Opti-Scan voting machines with the names of all candidates for Senior Class positions and paid to have professional ballots printed. At each school, dozens of students gained experience by filling the roles of Polling Moderator, Assistant Registrar, Official Checker, Ballot Clerk, and Tabulator Tender, and they helped 330+ students cast ballots. More than 20 BHS and SHS students also applied to work in paid positions at the Stratford polls in the August 2022 primary and the November general election.

Q: What was the reaction?

Garrett Covino, the faculty adviser to student government at Bunnell, said students were “attentive, proud, and excited to foster a sense of actual civil engagement.  Not to mention how happy they were to receive an official ‘I Voted’ sticker.  Who knew that a sticker could be so enticing!” he joked.

Elizabeth Bourjailie, Chair of the Humanities Department at SHS, said some of the students carried the message home to parents. One told her: “[She] had thought it so cool to see her name on a real ballot! She told me all about the election process when she got home and who was there! Kudos to everyone who set that up!”  Bourjailie also said SHS school psychologist Alissa Orti reached out to praise the decision to bring this opportunity to our schools and said it provided students with a “one-of-a-kind-experience.”

The program was funded through a grant from the Stratford Rotary club, which was so pleased by the results that it has extended funding for two more years.

More Questions? Please send them to Registrar Jim Simon; jsimon@townofstratford.com. This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford.

 

 

 

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