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New Registrations, Absentee Ballots Piling Up Work Load For Election Staff

September 7th, 2015 · 60 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, Education

If it’s not enough trying to keep pace with the high activity of absentee ballots, throw in the labor required to process close to 2,000 new voter registration cards and switchers from unaffiliated ranks to Democrats and now you have elections offices swelling with paperwork to meet the demands of the September 16 primary. It has forced elections officials and staff to work the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

Both Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala, 11 years on the job, and Town Clerk Alma Maya, nearly eight years, say this is the first time their respective staffs have had to put in time the Labor Day weekend before a primary.

In mid-July, the Democratic registration was approximately 38,000. It could eclipse 40,000 by primary day powered by a major push from the campaign of Joe Ganim to register new voters and switch unaffiliated voters. Ganim, however is not alone in this push. Independent advocacy groups in support of charter schools are also registering new voters that could bolster Mayor Bill Finch’s reelection. Finch backs charters schools that receive public funds but operate independently of traditional school districts.

Independent expenditures from education groups, labor and advocacy organizations have become a growing part of campaigns to assist the success or defeat of a candidate. By the time of primary day, the combined spending of Ganim, Finch and Mary-Jane Foster will eclipse a record $1 million.

All the paperwork has caused city election staff headaches. For instance, a new voter card is dropped off at the Registrar’s Office. An absentee ballot application is also filled out associated with the new voter. If the voter card information has not been processed due to the backlog, the absentee ballot cannot be sent because the new voter has not been entered into the system.

This upcoming week Ayala will start the process of conducting supervision of absentee ballot voting at about 10 designated locations in the city including the housing project P.T. Barnum Apartments that has a high volume of absentee ballot applications worked heavily by the campaign camps. The state of Connecticut has excuse-only absentee ballot voting. You must have a reason such as an illness or being away the date of the election to vote via absentee ballot. Registrars have authority to conduct supervision when more than 20 requests to vote by absentee ballots come from the same location. This enters an interesting argument, is it a specific entity location or a specific address? For instance, P.T. Barnum Apartments include many buildings with different street addresses. The apartments are being treated just as a specific location such as a self-contained senior citizen building. Could this become a court issue?

By law, no one can touch an absentee ballot except the voter, with a few exceptions such as immediate family or a designated health provider. Absentee ballot rules here. Part of the rationale behind supervised balloting allows electors to vote for the candidate of their choice without being strong-armed by campaign workers. A date and time is set for the voter to appear at a meeting room for instance of a senior building to fill out the absentee ballot card. If the electors do not fill out an absentee ballot the day of supervised voting they still have the option of going to their designated polling location on September 16. In the case of P.T. Barnum Apartment residents that is the adjacent Aquaculture School.

Under state law absentee ballots are processed by the Town Clerk’s Office, but are tabulated by the Registrar’s Office which is why that office oversees supervised balloting. The absentee ballots mailed to the Town Clerk’s Office are turned over to the Registrar’s Office the evening of the election. If supervised balloting is ordered, the Town Clerk mails out absentee ballots up to the first 20 requests from that address. The remaining applications are preserved for the date of the supervised balloting.

More than 2,000 absentee ballot applications have been dropped off at the Town Clerk’s office by political operatives, a majority by the Finch and Ganim camps struggling to bank every possible vote in a hotly contested race.

Staff in the Town Clerk’s Office match the name of the requested ballot with the name and address on the voter file.

A review of the first 1000 requested ballots shows more than 100 applications have faulty affiliations, are not registered or failed to mark a reason for not making it to the polling place.

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60 Comments so far ↓

  • Jimfox

    New poll from Brooklawn and Black Rock sections:
    Finch 46% Unfavorable
    Foster 27% Unfavorable
    Ganim 27% Unfavorable

    as of 9/1 2015 + or – 5%
    DT Survey USA

    • Steven Auerbach

      Lololololololololololollolol is that too redundant? Lolololololololololol sorry Black Rock 5 to 1 Finch over Ganim, Brooklawn 4 to 1 over Ganim, Foster not yet on radar.

      • Wicca

        Did that unicorn get to your house yet?

      • Advanced Therapy

        Being constantly offended doesn’t mean you’re right, it just means you’re too narcissistic to tolerate opinions different than yours.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Advanced Therapy, I love opinions different than mine. The poll by Jim Fox was clearly a joke. Ganim and Foster have certainly paid for a poll. They know.

          • Jimfox

            Just remember folks, Stevie has not picked a winner in over 20 years, his last big push was “Musto,” so what does that tell us? I feel sorry for Bill Finch, he only has three people on this blog humping his name.

            1. Stevie Auerbach, Mr. Narcissistic.

            2. Johnny the Librarian, a paid city employee.

            3. Some misfit from Trumbull who can’t vote.

          • Steven Auerbach

            Jim Fox, why are you crying? Because you know you haven’t a chance. You understand I rarely insult you. For the record, not that it is worth anything. There was only one candidate who I worked for who lost in the last 20 years. That would be 2011 for Mary-Jane. I did not work on Musto’s campaign at all. Every mayor I supported has won accept Moran’s reelection bid. I voted for Ganim twice. I expect a landslide for Finch. I expect you will be very disappointed but I expect you will not remember that a day later so it is all good!

      • The Bridgeport Kid

        You know something, Steve?
        Bill Finch is very unpopular with college-educated voters and they are the majority in both Brooklawn and Black Rock. You and Local Eyes are going to look like the biggest jackasses west of the Connecticut River when Tax Bill gets his ass handed to him in a paper bag by primary voters. Not that your fellow bloggers need to be reminded.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Bridgeport Kid,
          I appreciate your loathing and disgust for my candidate. Really I do. However, most educated voters in the city are Democrats. Most educated voters are aware of the major strides Finch has made. Most educated voters are not voting for Joe Ganim. Most educated voters realize at this point it is a two-man race. Most voters think new train stations, Steelpointe, revitalized downtown, new housing all over the city, college educated youth moving downtown etc, is a good thing. Most will be holding their nose and voting for the future. Nobody is interested in Ganim’s second chance and Foster has less name recognition these days then she did when I walked the City on her behalf. That being said, you could very well be right and Local Eyes and myself as well as the entire city would be a laughing stock across the country.

          I am not sure if you have covered as many miles as I have in this cycle, but Finch is doing extremely well in every corner of the city. My gut tells me you have not knocked on one door.

          You are a staunch Rick Torres supporter and that is why your posts are confusing to most. Now that the blogosphere is clear where you stand. We understand why you are consistently bashing Finch, giving Ganim a free ride and rarely supporting Foster.

          I think your posts alone are incentives to vote for Finch.

          Time will tell. Hey Kid, would you like to walk for two hours with me in Black Rock? We can start at P.T. Barnum , then we can head to more affluent St. Mary’s and we will see which candidate is strongest.

          • Jimfox

            After reading this new poll, this race is between Ganim and Foster!

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            I have no interest in spending any time with you, Steve. You blabbered so much the other night, no one else could get a word in edgewise. You think you know how this election is going to shape up but the truth of the matter is you don’t. I can appreciate your support of the incumbent. I don’t understand it but it is appreciated. I support Rick Torres for mayor. I have no obligation to you or anyone else to explain.

            I am critical of the mayor. He has no compassion, no understanding of how his decisions will or do effect the people of the city of Bridgeport. Public safety is an issue–the police force is dangerously understaffed, down by more than a hundred officers. The mayor and his cronies had no desire to recruit new officers until Joe Ganim shamed them into it. The chief of police, and by extension, the mayor, wouldn’t have opened a substation until Joe Ganim shamed them and doing so became a face-saving gesture. The mayor was going to offer a 35-year tax abatement to a developer, no strings attached, for a measly $4000 campaign “contribution.” It was voted down after Rick Torres lobbied the rest of the City Council and explained it would have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, an expense that was not even close to justification. Taxes have gone up five times under Bill Finch. FIVE TIMES. How much more does he and David Kooris and Anne Kelly-Lenz think the people of the city of Bridgeport are willing or able to pay?

            Joe Ganim had a few successes as mayor, some things to brag about. He also had some catastrophic failures. Those failures along with his criminal record are more than enough to make voters think twice about returning him to City Hall. I have been very outspoken about Ganim; apparently you didn’t read those posts.

            Mary-Jane Foster talks a good game but her “first 100 days” plan is just no-nonsense practical stuff that should have been done years ago. At one time she had a working relationship with Joe Ganim and received abatements while he was mayor. She’s too business-oriented.

            Tony Barr impressed as an angry man with an elephant-sized chip on his shoulder; Charles Coviello is Charles Coviello; David Daniels is an honorable man on a “listening tour.” Not one of them has the right stuff to be chief executive of Connecticut’s largest and most dysfunctional city.

            I haven’t criticized your political opinions recently, leaving others to it. Yet you still continue with personal attacks. So I am asking you, as a gentleman: Please make an effort at civility.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Bridgeport Kid, there were no personal attacks and again I offered you to walk in Black Rock, you specifically said you had no interest spending any time with me. Thank G-d, but I did offer the opportunity to witness first hand the support for Finch in PT Barnum and St. Mary’s.

          The best thing to come out of your post is you finally identified your candidate which means you will be angry and negative for at least another four years.

    • John from Black Rock

      Hey Jim, just curious, what voters and how many were polled? Also was this a robo poll and lastly can we be confident this was not a “push poll?” Also, I’m probably missing something obvious, but what does the DT in DT Survey USA stand for? I’m not attacking the poll. I’d just like some additional info. Thanks, John S.

      • Jimfox

        Cell-phone and home-phone respondents are included in this survey. SurveyUSA interviewed 1,000 adults 09/02/15 and 09/03/15. Of the adults, 900 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 58% (522) pay “a lot” of attention to politics. This survey was conducted using blended sample, mixed-mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (62% of registered voters) were interviewed on their home (landline) telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (38% of registered voters) were shown a question on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device. Cell respondents, as is typically the case, vote more Democratic than do landline respondents. Among just the universe of cell-phone respondents, this was not a push poll.

        • LennieGrimaldi

          Sonny, do you need truth serum?

          • Jimfox

            I was as shocked as you to see these poll numbers from my dear friend DT, he made me promise not to say anything. But the Finchettes need to know they are backing a loser!
            And they still have time to switch!

          • Steven Auerbach

            Is he insane? Is this the new Ganim talking points so his supporters do not give up? Very strange.

        • John from Black Rock

          So the poll included all voters, not just Dems and of the 522 who pay “a lot” of attention to politics how many were Dems and what were the numbers for their response to the unfavorable question? Lastly, was the usual “if the primary were held today who would you vote for” question asked and what were the results from just the Dems in the (522) who pay “a lot” of attention to politics universe?

          • Jimfox

            I think it would be nice seeing that Mayor Finch is way behind in this race, that someone would start an, “Inch by Inch City employees for Finch!” campaign!

  • Jeff Kohut

    This will be quite an election! It’s already become hot enough to scare off Denise Merrill from doing her job. Has Dan Malloy had anything to say about getting help for Bridgeport in keeping this election honest? (But then, I don’t know that Dan Malloy is the person we would want advocating for “honesty” in Bridgeport.)

    • John from Black Rock

      Hey Jeff, you’re a good guy. But do you really feel Joe Ganim is the guy to be “advocating for “honesty” in Bridgeport?” That position is just a wee bit ironic to say the least.

      BTW–how do you feel about the Ganim campaign sending an armed off-duty Bpt police detective and three of his cohorts to a DTC member’s house the evening before the endorsement convention to “gently persuade” him to change his vote? It’s fine for you not to support Finch but do you really support this type of intimidation?

      • Frank the Cabana Boy

        They’re both cut from the same cloth.

        John, your candidate isn’t doing well if he’s slamming Joe on being a member of the KKK–real mature.

  • carolanne curry

    John from Black Rock // Sep 5, 2015 at 6:44 pm
    to your post
    Wait.
    I’ll explain something to you on September 17, 2015

  • Advanced Therapy

    He and his administration are experts at intimidating the employees who reside in Bridgeport. They have approached numerous employees and in so many words advised them on how to keep their jobs. I’ve advised the employees to document every threat and if needed use it against the idiot (Finch)!

    • Steven Auerbach

      Advanced Therapy, I have city employees who live in my neighborhood with Ganim signs. I hardly think the Mayor has advised anyone on how to keep their jobs.

      Carolanne Curry, on Sept. 17 you will be very upset to find Ganim will not continue to the general election.

      Jeff Kohut, I would have to agree with John From Black Rock. Do you really believe Ganim could possibly be the candidate advocating for honesty?

      Here is my take. Of all the Ganim signs on properties of those who are owners and registered voters I believe they are voting for Joe Ganim. The signs on vacant houses and rental properties are questionable. Of all the homes without signs, I’d give the majority to Finch.

      Ganim people may have registered for absentee ballots but they are not voting for them. I would monitor very very very very closely the activity of Santa Ayala and Alma Maya. We do not need another scandal with them going to jail!

    • John from Black Rock

      Did “they” come wearing sidearms? BTW–I am a longtime city employee. In 2007 I was on the Caruso staff and in 2011 I supported MJF. Never once did Finch or anyone from either his administration in the case of the MJF campaign or from the DTC in the Caruso campaign ever try to intimidate me into supporting Finch. Further, I am supporting Finch this year because he is not only the best candidate, he is the only candidate who will defeat Joe Ganim.

      Once again, no one threatened my job or tried to intimidate me in any way. I went to Bill on my own and told him he had my support. I do not know if you know me (John Soltis), AT. If you do you should know had anyone tried to coerce me into supporting them the entire city would have heard about it. I do not respond well to attempts at intimidation and had it occurred I would have done everything in my power to get the word out.

      • Advanced Therapy

        Well lucky you!!! I was and so were others. Because they never approached you doesn’t mean they don’t!!!

        • John from Black Rock

          Hey AT, perhaps I’m just not high-profile enough for these sinister forces of evil to notice me. In the future I promise to try harder as right now I’m feeling very neglected. :)

          • city hall smoker

            The director of labor relations has intimidated more than a few employees. He has confronted Ganim supporters in the hallway with “I need to talk to you” threats and many are being monitored on Facebook.

          • Advanced Therapy

            Osborne knows his job is on the line if Finch loses the election. Can’t wait to see him pack!

  • Bob Walsh

    I thought I knew you John, but this election has me thinking otherwise.

  • John from Black Rock

    … and Bob, I thought I knew you. You had the nerve to publicly accuse me of lying in an attempt to gain political advantage for your candidate (who by the way, has far too much class and integrity to ever pull that kind of stunt) and you lack the good grace to admit you were wrong.

    If you honestly believe I would cave to that kind of political pressure and then lie about it, you’re 100% correct. You’ve never really known me.

    I regret you’ve made this personal and I suggest you direct any further personal comments to me privately as I find responding to your public attacks on my character extremely distasteful.

    You’ve let your hatred of Finch and/or Ganim turn a political difference of opinion into a personal attack on a friend and political ally of many years and that’s really a shame.

  • Jeff Kohut

    John and Steve: All I can say in response to your posts is–”What budget deficit?!” and “I’m going to give every Bridgeport taxpayer a $600 rebate.”

    Joe has been set down on the straight-and-narrow by some very hard lessons. I’ll trust those lessons over what I’ve seen from City Hall since 2008 and Hartford since 2010 (and Stamford City Hall from about 1998 until 2010).

    And, for the record–I think that you guys are nice guys too. And as I’ve said, I think Bill Finch would be a great next-door neighbor–but I think we need Joe Ganim putting his proven skills and leadership (and hard-won lessons) back to work for us in City Hall.

    Life will go on in Bridgeport after this election–and I look forward to Joe Ganim fighting the good fight for us in City Hall, and I expect he will have the next four years + to do that for us. And I hope this contentious election won’t see us unwilling to work together to propel Bridgeport to where it deserves to be–prosperous and on top of the political hill in Connecticut.

    • John from Black Rock

      Hey Jeff,
      For the record, I too hope after this election we can come together and work for a better Bpt. We should never allow our political differences in this particular election to become personal.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Jeff, how far do you have to go to keep mentioning a rebate? That was a genuine desire of the Mayor. It is not like he cost the city millions in lawsuits and years of a horrible stigma. Jeff, I can ot even imagine what benefit you are getting supporting Joe but whatever it is, the cost to your reputation is greater.

      • The Bridgeport Kid

        Keep saying it, Jeff. It reminds everyone of George H. W. Bush’s notorious “Read my lips: no new taxes” pledge that cost him a second term.

  • Jimfox

    Lennie, here’s your truth serum for the voters in the 138th, right in Finch’s back yard!

    BRIDGEPORT – Bridgeport police are searching for a man wanted in an armed home invasion on Evers Street Extension that happened shortly after noon on Saturday.

    Police scanner reports say the man, who was wearing a hoodie, displayed a semi-automatic gun. It appears that the occupants inside the house, located near the Treeland/Beardsley Park, were not injured.

    The home invader fled the scene in a vehicle that was seen speeding away on East Pasadena Street.

  • Jimfox

    Bill Finch wants Bass Pro to keep selling those guns and rifles!

    In fact, according to a Hearst Connecticut Media investigation into registration records, there were 51,763 assault weapons in private hands statewide at the end of August–enough to equip an army. In addition, 40,491 residents filed paperwork showing they owned ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.

    www .ctpost.com/news/article/More-than-51-000-assault-rifles-registered-in-6487021.php

    • donj

      Hey Jimmy, we have the right to have these guns!!!

    • John from Black Rock

      Hey Jimmy, why do you find it necessary to point out in your Sep 6, 2015 at 11:26 am post I am a city employee, implying I’m supporting Finch for that reason? I’ve been a city employee for a very, very long time and during that time I’ve almost always opposed the incumbent and/or DTC-endorsed candidate for mayor and that includes Finch–twice!

      Hell, I recruited you to run for City Council on the Caruso slate against Fabrizi in 2003. I’m getting a little tired of a small group of OIB posters trying to link my employment status with my support for the mayor.

      For the very last time, I’m supporting Finch of my own free will because he is the best candidate and he is also the only candidate who can beat Joe Ganim; period, end of story. This is my final comment on this BS.

      BTW–you still haven’t answered my questions about the poll you posted the other day. Here they are again:
      So the poll included all voters not just Dems and of the 522 who pay “a lot” of attention to politics, how many were Dems and what were the numbers for their response to the unfavorable question? Lastly, was the unusual “if the primary were held today who would you vote for” question asked and what were the results from just the Dems in the (522) pay “a lot” of attention to politics universe?

      • Ron Mackey

        John, how do feel about Mayor Bill Finch’s disrespect of UB, and don’t you think his position hurts Bridgeport?

        • John from Black Rock

          Hey Ron,
          If you’re trying to get me to say something negative about my candidate, I’m not going to go there. However I will say this, I do not have to agree with a candidate on every single issue to support him/her, especially when Joe Ganim is in the race and my candidate is the only one running who can (and will) beat him.

          On another topic: I had a childhood friend in East Side Bpt named Dwight Mackey, who I believe has passed. I’ve meant ask you for a long time if he was related to you. John S.

      • Jimfox

        JfBR, thank you for your past support, John.
        I’m waiting for those answers from DT, as soon as I get them I’ll pass them on.

        But as you can see in this DT USA Poll, Mayor Finch is way behind Mary-Jane and Joe. It just seems to me city employees are not doing that much for the Mayor. The only other people on this blog who are helping the mayor are Local Eyes, Stevie Auerbach and you.

        Finch 46% Unfavorable
        Foster 27% Unfavorable
        Ganim 27% Unfavorable

        as of 9/1 2015 + or – 5%
        DT Survey USA

        • John from Black Rock

          Hey Jim, you’re very welcome.
          As for your poll, until I know the numbers for Prime Dems, the numbers you posted don’t really say much about the primary.

          The only thing I will concede is there are more anti-Finch posters on OIB than pro-Finch supporters. However, as a charter member of OIB, I have learned these posts represent a relatively small group of partisans talking “inside baseball” and throwing shots at each other.

          Historical note: This whole OIB thing really took off in 2007 when the Caruso and Finch staffs and close supporters began a kind of verbal virtual warfare. Characters such as Blue Donkey, MCAT, SUNCAT, JfBR, Bill the Cat were among the early posters with a gentleman called envoy5 trying to be the voice of reason. Bottom line–it was a lot of fun and it helped Lennie grow the blog. Beyond that, we all probably should have spent more time campaigning and less time blogging.

  • Local Eyes

    While some people think Joe Ganim learned his lesson, others think he burned his bridges. When it comes to Bridgeport’s development, investors are important “voters.” Think of the future and re-elect Mayor Finch.

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    In my experience, register all the new voters you can. Unless there is an effective GOTV on election eve and Election Day, the newly registered voters do not remember to vote. The base of known, consistent voters are campaign gold if one can reach and persuade them to support your candidate.

    • John from Black Rock

      Hey Jennifer, once again you are on the money. I would just add you need an extremely effective GOTV operation. Unfortunately, the turnout rate of new voters, especially in a local primary, is somewhere around 10%.

  • Park City too

    I think the topic was absentee ballots. My only question being an uninformed one as to the truth: How many of the absentee ballots are false or cajoled? How many seniors and poverty stricken or under-educated people are tricked into signing them in support of dishonest campaigns? I don’t know, do you?

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      Indeed, register new voters, enter them into the system, get them absentee ballots to get their vote/ That is a very well planned GOTV plan. The states which have by mail, early and no-excuse absentee voting rarely cry foul after an election. To my view, CT seems hell bent on keeping voters confused, counting on pure DTC endorsed candidates winning elections.

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