Four months after a ballot shortage placed Bridgeport in the national news, an informal committee appointed by Mayor Bill Finch shared its report. From the mayor:
Bipartisan election review panel releases final report
The five-member bipartisan panel tasked with reviewing Election Day procedures in Bridgeport made its final recommendations to the Mayor and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on Thursday, calling for better training, organization, and greater oversight from the Secretary of the State’s office in order to ensure that future elections are handled in a fair and efficient manner.
The panel, chaired by former Bridgeport Mayor Nicholas Panuzio, made more than 60 recommendations in its 17-page report. “The problems caused by the lack of ballots, is but one part of the challenges the City faced on Election Day,” said Panuzio. “The underlying systemic challenges–a lack of planning, organization and consistent training for poll workers, to name a few, are things that need to be addressed, either by executive order of the Mayor, or through legislation or directives from the Secretary of the State’s office. In the final analysis, it is the Registrar of Voters who has the responsibility for everything that happens in the City on Election Day.”
“What happened in Bridgeport on November 2, 2010 can never happen again,” said Mayor Finch. “I am grateful to the panel for their hard work these past few months. We all agree that the right to vote is the most important right our citizens have, and we want to make sure every voter has trust in the process and that their voice is heard. Many thanks to the Secretary of the State for her assistance in this process; the panel has endorsed her ideas in their report, and I have testified on behalf of her election reform proposals in front of the Government Administration and Election Committee,” said Mayor Finch.
“No registered voter who wants to cast a ballot on Election Day should ever be turned away from the polls,” said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. “For centuries in Connecticut, elections have been administered at the local level. For the most part, this system has worked well. But last year’s general election exposed some weaknesses that need to be fixed. We need more communication between the Secretary of the State’s office and local registrars of voters and we need more oversight and accountability for local elections decisions at the state level. We have proposed legislation that will accomplish that, and we are committed to working with the city of Bridgeport and all municipalities to ensure the integrity of our elections. I commend the elections panel for its diligent work.”
After the Nov. 2 election, Mayor Bill Finch convened the five-member panel to assess Election Day procedures and make recommendations to the Mayor based on their findings. Since that time, the panel has held public meetings, talked with the Registrar and worked with the Secretary of the State’s office to better understand the complexities involved in the state-local election process and how it is overseen. Panel members include: Former Bridgeport Mayor Nicholas Panuzio, chair; Richard Bieder, principal with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder; Rosa Correa, employment director at Family ReEntry, Inc., Edwin Farrow, a local attorney and Robert Trefry, former CEO of Bridgeport Hospital.