When Connecticut’s largest city boasts more than 70,000 registered voters it will put a strain on election officials trying to accommodate absentee ballot requests during a health pandemic.
That’s the situation in the Town Clerk’s Office which is tasked with processing absentee ballots for the November 3 general election. The ballots, by state law, must be available October 3.
The Office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State has eschewed the mail house it used to mail absentee ballots to voters in the primary, restoring those traditional duties to local town clerks to electioneer the ballots. The state mail house was messy, tens of thousands of state voters did not receive ballots.
For the general election the state mailed absentee ballot applications to voters who will return them to local town clerks requesting an absentee. The voter can simply check the application box marked Covid as the excuse to vote absentee and return it via U.S. mail to town clerks. An executive order by Governor Ned Lamont broadened the state’s restrictive, excuse-only absentee voting to include the health emergency.
Electors have the option to vote in person at polls or by absentee. If the trend continues as it did for the primary season more voters will cast ballots by mail than in person.
So let’s say the general election turnout in Bridgeport hits 50 percent, roughly 20,000 electors could vote by absentee (15,000 in person) if the general follows the primary trend.
Another glitch caused by the state by mailing the applications to voters has been cured by the local town clerk. For some voters the return application envelope is mistakenly addressed to the city clerk, not the town clerk. Bridgeport election officials have directed the City Hall mail room to drop off those envelopes at the town clerk.
Town clerks, by state law, are tasked with processing absentee ballots.
The onslaught of absentee ballots requests will come soon.