A Wesleyan student filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission Tuesday alleging that former Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano ran a campaign that “tried to deter Wesleyan students from the polls.”
Paulina Jones Torregrosa, a Wesleyan freshman, filed the complaint with a clerk Tuesday afternoon, just one day before the SEEC will vote on Giuliano’s appointment to head the elections agency. It’s unclear if the complaint will slow down Giuliano’s hiring.
Stephen Cashman, chairman of the SEEC, did not return calls for comment Monday or Tuesday.
The planned protest later in the afternoon was anything but the demonstration promised in the press release. Just one student, freshman Mansoor Alam, showed up to answer questions from a handful of reporters.
The complaint the students filed echoed the sentiments first expressed by Rep. Russell Morin and Sen. Gayle Slossberg, the co-chairs of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. Morin and Slossberg urged the SEEC to reconsider its nomination because they believe its too soon for a partisan fresh off the campaign trail to be serving in such a position.
There is some disagreement about whether any Wesleyan students were given misinformation about their voting rights.
Although Wesleyan students have been allowed to register using their university P.O boxes in the past, depending on the location of their residence hall they may reside in one of several different districts.
“Because they all had the P.O. box, we told the registrars to ask them to come in ahead of time to clarify their address, or they could just flag them down at the polls,” Harris said.
Alam said that an unknown number of Wesleyan students were turned away from polls on Election Day, but Av Harris, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said that his office did not receive any complaints.
Harris added that Republican Janice Gionfriddo, Middletown’s Republican Registrar of Voters, understood ahead of time that polling station staffers would need to accommodate some of the 450 newly-registered students – either by registering them with their proper address at the polling station, or directing them to the proper facility.
“That’s not turning them away, that’s telling them where to go,” Harris said.
Giuliano disagrees with how Wesleyan students are characterizing their relationship with him.
Asked about the nature of his relationship with Wesleyan students Tuesday in a phone interview, Giuliano mentioned Alex Levin, a Wesleyan senior who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Middletown Board of Education.
“There was a Wesleyan student that was running for board of education on our [the Republican] ticket,” Giuliano said.
Giuliano said the idea that he would put his own politics before his duty is “an insult.”
“That would be like saying a guy who used to play baseball for the Yankees can’t be an umpire in the major leagues, or a guy who’s a rabid fan of one team cannot become a league official because they’re incapable of putting their fandom aside and doing what is their duty,” Giuliano said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Giuliano said that elected officials and people with strong party affiliations often put aside their personal politics while working as moderators on election day or in some other capacity.
The SEEC is scheduled to vote on Giuliano’s nomination at its 9 a.m. meeting.
While the heads of the legislature’s General Administration and Elections Committee are opposed to Giuliano’s nomination, some are still scratching their heads.
On Friday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he “didn’t know what to make of it,” adding that it’s an independent agency with the ability to appoint its own executive director.