Ask the Registrar – Stratford, CT

Special Edition: Primary election rundown for Sept. 14

By Registrar James Simon

Why are there elections Sept. 14th in some parts of Stratford but not in my neighborhood?

Two Democrats gathered enough signatures to force a primary for the town council nomination in District 8 (Chapel School) and District 9 (Bunnell High School).  There is no primary election in any other part of town; the general election is Nov. 2.

In District 8, the Democratic Party’s choice, Dianne Nolan, is being challenged by Richard Brown. In District 9, endorsed candidate Linda Chaffin is being challenged by Richard Marcone.

Turnout is usually very light in primary elections. We expect even fewer people to show up at the polls this year due to Covid fears and due to the state’s decision to allow all voters to use mail-in absentee ballots. To obtain an AB in Districts 8 or 9, contact Town Clerk Susan Pawluk,  203-385-4020;  spawluk@townofstratford.com

I see the white Ballot Drop Box on the side of Town Hall, across from the Fire Station. Why are you using it?

A new state law makes the boxes a permanent feature of Connecticut elections and mandates that they become available 29 days before every election (in this case, the Sept. 14 primary).

The Stratford drop boxes were very popular last November when hundreds of town voters dropped off their ballots there, in part due to worries about the reliability of the U.S. Postal Service.

The Town Clerk’s office constantly empties the box, right up until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

You may think your mailed-in absentee ballot will be counted as long as it is postmarked before Election Day – You would be wrong!    8 p.m. is the cutoff at polling locations and at the Drop Box, and any late arriving ballots are not included in the count.

How often do people break into these white Ballot Drop Boxes or tamper with them?

In a conference call with Registrars of Voters on Aug. 30, 2021, state election officials said they had zero reports of that happening in any of the 169 Connecticut cities and towns in the 2020 election.

I worry about safeguarding my personal information. How do I prevent someone from obtaining my full birthday information from my voter registration form?  

Your voter registration form is a public record, and anyone can ask us to see it. A new state law mandates that Registrars of Voters, upon demand, provide only the month and year of a person’s birth, instead of the full day+month+year as done in the past.

We also cross out the first five digits of your Social Security number, whenever we see it on a card, to help protect your information.

How often do you update voter registration records? How often do you find a mistake?

On a daily basis, we update the Stratford voting rolls with information on people moving, dying, or losing their right to vote if they are imprisoned for a felony offense.

We make thousands of changes every year to the 35,000 records. Some of the best sources of information for updates come from the state Department of Motor Vehicles and the U.S. Postal Service.

We recently found dozens of Stratford women were registered to vote twice: once under their maiden name, and then again under a married name. There was no evidence they had actually voted twice; it’s just that when you get married, informing the Registrar of Voter’s office isn’t exactly your top priority!

Stratford 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. 9; September 2021)

 

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