HARTFORD, CT — Never have so many candidates running for office in Connecticut sought to petition their way onto a primary ballot. However, voters should be aware of any false claims of having achieved the goal before every last signature is counted.
Bob Stefanowski, the Madison Republican who hadn’t voted in 16 years and wants to be governor, claims to have collected over 12,000 signatures of registered Republicans.
Republican candidates, including Stefanowski, David Stemerman of Greenwich, and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti have to collect the signatures of 9,081 Republican voters to gain access to the Aug. 14 primary ballot.
Those signatures have to be submitted to the Registrar of Voters in the towns where the voters reside and the Registrars of Voters have to certify that the people who signed are voters in that town or city and registered with the Republican Party, in the case of the three Republicans.
“I am pleased to report that we have obtained more than enough valid signatures to qualify for the August 14 Republican Primary with submission to registrars starting today,” Stefanowski said. “As a political outsider, I felt it was important to gain broad-based support from the 450,000 registered Republicans rather than relying on an outdated convention process that strongly favors career politicians.”
The signatures need to be submitted to the Registrars of Voters by 4 p.m., June 12. The Registrars then have seven days to verify them and send them off via mail to the Secretary of the State’s office, which will certify the number of signatures collected by each candidate.
That means, technically, the process won’t be over on June 12 and likely will take until the end of the month.
The Secretary of the State’s office has said that it may take as many as seven to 10 days to complete the tabulation process.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who failed to garner the 15 percent of the delegates at the Democratic Party convention, and Guy Smith of Greenwich, who skipped the convention, will need to gather signatures from more than 15,458 registered Democratic voters.
As of May 30, Ganim claimed to have collected almost 20,000 signatures. However, not all of them will count.
Ganim is using the petition drive to paint himself as the outsider who can connect with a diverse group of voters. But that comes with some risk.
At least one person who signed Ganim’s petition on Park Street last month was on special parole, which would make him ineligible to vote. It also means his signature won’t count toward Ganim’s 15,458 threshold. If this represents a pattern in Ganim’s petition effort, it could be problematic.
The person circulating the petition has to be a registered member of the party in Connecticut and each signature page they submit to the Registrars must be notarized.
Stefanowski and Stemerman’s campaigns have hired outside companies to collect signatures, but they need to be accompanied by a Connecticut voter who is the only one able to circulate a petition on behalf of the Republicans.
Stefanowski’s campaign recently announced it was paying an additional $5 per hour in addition to the base rate of $25 an hour for those willing to circulate petitions in the rain. A spokesman for Smith’s campaign said they are paying about 50 workers $15 an hour to collect signatures. He said there are another 100 volunteers also contributing to the effort.
Other campaigns have declined to say exactly how much they are paying and how many paid staff versus volunteers they have participating in the effort.
The Secretary of the State’s office will be checking the certification of the circulator and the number of signatures they submit as part of its process.
As of Monday afternoon, the Secretary of State’s office said it had certified 381 signatures for Ganim, 19 for Stemerman, and 18 for Stefanowski. The only candidate in the past to qualify for a party primary by petitioning was Peter Schiff in 2010.