The 2006 candidate for US senate, Ned Lamont, said his conservative friends think Election Day Registration, also known as same day voter registration, is “just a political ploy,” and an invitation for voter fraud, but for him it’s about giving people confidence and a voice in the political system.
“As an American you want everybody to have a stake in the system,” Lamont said Tuesday as he opened up Common Cause’s panel discussion on the idea at Yale University.
State Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, said its not hard for voters to become disenfranchised. She said she hears the stories all the time about a mother of three running to the polls and when she gets there she doesn’t have the proper ID. She said if that person is turned away they usually doesn’t bother coming back.
She said same day voter registration would resolve some of that frustration.
“If you don’t have a voice, you don’t have a choice,” Slossberg said.
However, LeReine Frampton, the Democratic Registrar of Voters in Newtown, had a slightly different take.
She said registrars across the state support the ideas, but are concerned about how election day registration would work, since it’s more than possible a voter could show up at the wrong polling place in towns with multiple polling places.
“Registrars want to have some control over this,” Frampton said. She said she would like to be able to set up a central location for voters looking to vote on the same day that they register. “It’s everyone right to vote, but its everyone’s responsibility to know if they’re registered,” she said.
Regina Eaton, of DEMOS a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization, said the system can make mistakes. She said she knows people who have showed up at polling places, are registered, but for whatever reason their name doesn’t appear on the list. She said even though the poll worker may know the person that person may not be able to vote.
Eaton said at least 300,000 people in four states were able to vote during this year’s presidential primaries because of same day voter registration.
State Rep. James Spallone, D-Essex, said having same day voter registration would simplify the process. He said he understands change can make people nervous, but if the legislature is able to pass it this year it would be rolled out during the less chaotic municipal election year.
In order to get it passed this year, Spallone said it will be important to focus on Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, whose predecessor former Gov. John G. Rowland vetoed the bill in 2003 even though it passed the Senate 27-9 and the House 83-63.