Two lawmakers made good on their promise to introduce legislation, which requires that the state order one ballot for every registered voter in an effort to ensure the mistakes of 2010 never happen again.
Reps. Ernest Hewett and Don Clemons filed the bill last week. It asks the state to pay for the ballots through the Citizens’ Election Fund, which currently funds publicly financed candidates.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz suggested earlier this year that the state may want to consider legislating how many ballots are ordered, even though there aren‘t any states she knows of that operate that way. In Connecticut it is up to the Registrar of Voters in each city and town to order the ballots prior to an election. The shortage of ballots in Bridgeport led to long lines and confusion at many polling places. It also delayed the certification of Gov.-elect Dan Malloy in the gubernatorial contest.
The state Elections Enforcement Commission is currently investigating what happened in Bridgeport and if any voters were disenfranchised because of the ballot shortage.
Cheri Quickmire of Common Cause Connecticut has said she thinks taking money out of the Citizens’ Elections Fund is a terrible idea. She said the fund continues to be a target for plugging other budget holes when it should be used to help fund clean elections.
Common Cause has rallied in the past against raiding the fund for fear there won’t be enough money for qualified publicly financed candidates. The organization supported campaign finance reform to help get special interest money out of politics.
The Citizens’ Election Program paid out a total of $27.3 million in 2010. Of that $17.8 million went to candidates running statewide campaigns and $9.5 million went to candidates running for the state legislature. The balance left in the fund for fiscal year 2011 will be $12.6 million once close to $15 million is transferred back to the state to help balance the budget.
It’s likely the bill will be debated by the General Administration and Elections Committee.