HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut’s Registrars of Voters are asking constituents who have yet to receive their absentee ballot in the mail to call their town clerk and get a new one.
That’s because at this point the ballot is unlikely to show up before next Tuesday.
Post Offices like the one in Hartford were closed Wednesday due to the power outage and changes in the postal service are slowing down delivery of mail in general.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said the U.S. Postal Service has seen “cutbacks” and it’s just “another factor” that’s making it difficult for people to obtain their absentee ballot.
“It’s hard to know exactly when people are going to get their ballots,” Merrill said.
She said people still don’t have ballots that were mailed last week by a mail house.
“There was a huge volume, even more than we anticipated,” Merrill said. “There were 267,000 absentee ballots applied for. It’s a big number.”
There’s a dispute between Merrill and the head of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association about how many ballots should have been sent by a mail house and how many should have been sent by the town clerks.
For the first time the state hired a mail house to send absentee ballots on behalf of the town clerks. Typically that’s something that would be handled at the local level.
Anna Posniak, president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, said Merrill’s office did not tell them until Monday afternoon that they would need to process about 20,000 absentee ballots.
“I am extremely irate,” Posniak said in a letter to town clerks.
The plan had always been to make the switch over from the mail house to the clerks on Monday, Aug. 3, Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for Merrill, said.
“If the state had not stepped in the towns would have had to mail all 267,000 themselves,” Merrill added.
Posniak worries the towns may not be able to process the 20,000 absentee ballots along with all the new requests that will come in this week.
“I am extremely concerned for the voters in our large cities as this neglect by SOTS may disenfranchise their vote next Tuesday,” Posniak wrote.
Merrill said she doesn’t believe that will happen.
Town Clerks have the ability to issue a duplicate absentee ballot that voters can use if they don’t want to go to the polls for the presidential preference primary on Aug. 11. Voters can then place their absentee ballot in the ballot box outside town hall and avoid the postal service.
Voters can also choose to vote in person.
Absentee ballots that arrive by mail after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11, cannot be counted.
Submitting an absentee ballot ahead of the primary will allow Registrars to maintain accurate lists and will ensure your ballot is successfully cast on time.
It will also help project the winner in a more timely fashion, said Sue Larsen, president of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut.
Larsen also said Registrars have been diligently working to ensure polling locations follow social distancing guidelines and are safe and secure for poll workers and eligible voters who choose to cast a ballot in-person.