Mayor Bill Finch’s Campaign Manager Maryli Secrest has filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission and Office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State regarding “the disenfranchise of electors who have requested an absentee ballot and will be prevented from voting by this process.”
In the complaint Secrest asserts that Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala and Town Clerk Alma Maya are “failing to adhere to Connecticut election law.”
As of Wednesday morning, one week from the September 16 Democratic primary, more than 300 absentee ballots have been returned to the Town Clerk’s Office out of roughly 2,500 applications mailed citywide to voters with perhaps a couple of thousand more possibly being mailed. That could mean a last-minute mail dump into the office. Meanwhile Ayala has started supervised balloting at possibly two dozen addresses where more than 20 absentee ballots have been requested.
Many of the usual locations for supervised balloting are underway, such as nursing homes. The big question is supervised balloting for P.T. Barnum Apartments which appears to be a stronghold for Mayor Bill Finch’s political operation. Time is winding down to organize a location at the complex for residents to vote absentee in lieu of making it to the Aquaculture School polling location nearby. Ayala is attempting to organize a location in conjunction with the housing authority. Finch supporters maintain Ayala’s zeal for supervised balloting there and other locations throughout the city is disenfranchising voters. Ayala contends she’s ordering supervised balloting so voters are not strong-armed by political camps to vote a particular way in light of the high volume of absentee ballots requests.
The Town Clerk’s Office provides a list to the Registrar’s Office of electors seeking to vote by absentee ballot that are designated supervised balloting locations by Ayala.
The Town Clerk’s Office also reports hundreds of problem absentee ballot applications such as incorrect affiliation or unregistered residents. A handful of voters have also called the office to report they did not request an absentee ballot after having received one.
Political operatives drop off the applications at the Town Clerk’s Office. Once the absentee ballots are mailed, campaign camps will contact many of the voters reminding them to return the ballot by mail. In the closing days of this hotly contested primary the camps of Finch and Joe Ganim are trying to bank every possible vote while Mary-Jane Foster’s campaign has been screaming about the high volume of absentee ballot requests including a complaint filed with the state by Foster supporter Bob Walsh.
Secrest is challenging Ayala’s interpretation of the state statute providing authority over supervised balloting. She writes:
“… I believe an additional premature directive was made from the Registrar to the Town Clerk with respect to at least the following addresses for no apparent reason: 199 Yacht Street; 55 Shell Street; 280 Jewett Avenue; and 254 Union Avenue. Also, the Registrar is apparently treating the P.T. Barnum housing project, which consists of a number of buildings at a number of addresses, as a single “street address” subject to this statute.”
In the complaint Secrest cites two voters who requested absentee ballots but have not received them.
“… There is no list of times for voting in any of the locations. Neither the Town Clerk or Registrar has posted any notice, or sent any notice to electors who requested absentee ballots, to alert electors that they will not be receiving their requested ballot, that they must vote through supervised balloting, if as they have already stated, they are unable to vote on election day, or when supervised voting will take place.”