Ask the Registrar – Stratford, CT

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

By Democratic Registrar James Simon.

Q. Why are there more Independent voters in Stratford than Democrats or Republicans?
There aren’t. In Connecticut, “Independent” is the name of a political party. Only 485 of the 35,150 Stratford voters were registered with ANY of the minor political parties, as of May 11, 2021.

If you don’t belong to a party in Connecticut, you are labeled as Unaffilated. There were 15,159 Unaffiliated voters in Stratford, compared to 13,191 registered Democrats and 6,315 Republicans, as of May 2021.

Q. Is there any disadvantage to being an Unaffiliated voter?
You must be a member of the Republican or Democratic Party in order to vote in that party’s primary. If you are Unaffiliated, you can vote in a party primary as long as you join the party by noontime on Monday the day before the primary. If you already belong to one of the major parties and want to switch and vote in the other party’s primary, you need to act 90 days before the primary election.

Q. Why does Stratford use public schools as polling places?
Tradition, availability, and the high visibility of schools. To maintain polls in all 10 districts, Stratford needs our schools!

Stratford school officials also have been very cooperative in making their facilities available. Elsewhere, Registrars of Voters have had to threaten to use a state regulation that allows them to “commandeer” part of a school in order to use it as a polling location.

Q. Will I be able to use an Absentee Ballot to vote in the Stratford town elections this fall?
We don’t yet know.

In Connecticut, Absentee Ballots have always been permitted for people who say they are unable to go to their assigned polling place on Election Day because of illness, physical disability, military service, and absence from town during all hours of voting (such as a business trip). Other reasons are religious tenets that forbid secular activity on the day of the election, or if you are an election official working at a polling place other than your own during all the hours of voting.

Last year due to the Covid-19 virus, the governor used his emergency powers to have an Absentee Ballot application sent to all voters statewide; you could automatically use the Covid-19 virus as a reason to vote by mail, if you so desired. Some 10,000 Stratford voters used an AB in November 2020, triple the normal number.

This year, Gov. Lamont extended that policy to cover the municipal elections that were held in May 2021, although the political parties had the task of mailing out Absentee Ballot applications if they so desired. It is not yet known how the process will work for any Stratford party primary election Sept. 14th or for the general election Nov. 2.nd.

Q. Can I get a permanent Absentee Ballot sent to me every election?
Dozens of Stratford voters who are permanently disabled have an AB sent to them automatically for every election. The voter must file an absentee ballot application together with a doctor’s certificate stating that they have a permanent disability and are unable to appear in person at their polling place. Contact Town Clerk Susan Pawluk (203-385-4020) to see if you qualify.

As one of the many safeguards in the AB process, the Registrars send such voters a letter every January, asking you to certify you are still an active voter and want to continue to receive a ballot in the mail.

More Questions? Please send them to Registrar Jim Simn; jsimon@townofstratford.com. This is not an official publication of the Town of Stratford. (Vol. 1, No. 5; May 2021)

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