Ask the Registrar

Your place to get questions answered about voting and local elections in Stratford.

By Registrar James Simon. July 2021

From the Mailbag:  How is voter identity proven on an absentee ballot? Anyone can fill it out. When you go to the poll to vote, you have to show your picture ID to get a ballot to vote.

To ensure the proper use of absentee ballots (AB), Connecticut has several safeguards that are lacking in some other states.
• Most people register through the DMV process, which produces a picture ID via your driver’s license. If you don’t show a picture ID when you first register to vote, you are flagged, and you are required to show a picture ID the first time you actually vote.

• To vote via AB, you must submit an AB application to the town clerk and certify why you qualify for it under state law (reasons include illness or physical disability, serving in the military, being out of town on election day, religious restrictions, etc.). The town clerk mails you back an actual ballot, with a unique bar code, at the address in your registration file. You must sign a statement, under the penalty of perjury, stating you yourself completed the ballot, then return it to the Town Clerk. The outer envelope, which identifies you from the bar code, is removed so ballot counters don’t know for whom you voted.

• Connecticut also allows voters to seek a “permanent” absentee ballot, due to a person’s chronic inability to make it to the polls. But even here, such voters are mailed a letter every January, asking them to verify they are still alive and living at the same address, in order to continue to use the process.

Due to the COVID emergency, Connecticut allowed all voters to use the AB process in 2020, even if they did not qualify under the standard reasons. In Stratford about 10,000 people voted via AB, three times the normal number. The emergency is not expected to be extended to this fall’s balloting. A referendum that would allow more widespread use of ABs is expected to be on the Connecticut statewide ballot in 2024.

Registrar James Simon worked as a political reporter for 10 years with The Associated Press, then taught courses like political journalism for 18 years as a professor and dean at Fairfield University. He was elected as the Democratic Registrar of Voters in Stratford in November 2020.

More Questions? Please Send them to Registrar Jim Simon: jsimon@townofstratford.com. This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford. (Vol. 1, No. 7; July 2021)

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