Dominic Rapini faces seven-term state Rep. Terrie Wood in the Republican primary Aug. 9 to be the party’s nominee for Secretary of the State. Rapini says fixing problems with Connecticut’s electoral process will build trust, and that his 25-year career in computer technology, working as a senior account manager for Apple, Inc.’s Consumer Electronics Division, makes him just the person to do it.
“It has been my dream job, but a job that I’m willing to retire from in order to serve our state,” said Rapini, a lifelong resident of New Haven County, who has worked in recent years to fight for what he sees as election integrity.
He is known for his role as a coach of more than 1,000 children in the Pop Warner football and cheerleading program in Hamden over the past 32 years. He graduated from Trinity College in 1983 with a degree in neuroscience and attended the Charter Oak Leadership program in 2020. Rapini has focused on election issues since 2019. He serves as board chair of Fight Voter Fraud, a board member for Grass Roots East, a Federal PAC for the Second Congressional District, and is a member of the Connecticut Republican Assembly as well as the Branford Republican Town Committee. None of his complaints with election regulators have been validated.
An unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2018 helped him learn the political process, he said.
“I learned how to raise money and how to build a team, how to use social media to campaign,” he said. “I see a lot of examples where Connecticut needs to improve. It became increasingly apparent to me there’s a lot of things I could do here, with my background, to help data integrity.”
Rapini said he is proud to come to the campaign with no strings attached.
“I’ve never been an elected official. I wear that as a badge of honor. I don’t owe anyone anything,” Rapini said. “The only thing I owe is to the voters to give them the best product available and service – I see elections as a product and a service.”
Fixing the current election technology system is an urgent need, he said, adding that there’s a saying in Silicon Valley, “You have to destroy the good to make room for the great.”
“I want to get it functional and then I want to destroy it and start all over again,” he said. “I treat Connecticut elections software as a brand. I want to instill a sense of confidence with our voters, so we will be best in class across the board.”
Part of the technology makeover Rapini envisions is a new fleet of optical scanners.
“We need the next generation,” he said. “I want them to be based on paper and I want the ballots to be watermarked like U.S. currency. I want to upgrade and fix the problems with the current software that the registrars use.”
The current optical scan machines are obsolete and will need to be replaced by the next secretary of the state, regardless of who is elected.
Rapini says he also would implement electronic poll books for a faster check-in process on voting day. “It also shares information with local campaigns, so they know who has not voted throughout the day. This would make Election Day more accessible to voters and get more voters out. It would give real-time data on how election results are going. You can have a much more effective day if you have a dashboard of the entire election.”
If elected, Rapini would also work to revamp voter ID laws. Rapini, who worked as an Election Day moderator, would also like to require government-issued identification to be included with absentee ballot application submissions.
“I’m there to talk with people with whom the Republican party has shared values,” he said. “Our values are: God, country and family. I’m here to fix problems and to make our elections stronger.”
“About 75 percent of Americans want voter ID, so it’s a non-partisan issue,” he said. “The first job I eliminate would be the elections disinformation officer, and I will probably bring in an information officer. There are a lot of problems in our elections. When we fix these problems, we build trust in our electoral process.”
Rapini calls himself a principled conservative and says he is endorsed by the Republican Hispanic Assembly, the Paternal Order of Police and by Moms for America.
“Every day and every week I’m meeting voters, I’m focusing on Hispanic voters and meeting with leaders,” he said.
“I’ve helped in special elections, I’ve organized poll watchers,” he said. “I’ve tried to learn all different angles of elections. That’s really helped prepare me for this.”
Rapini and his wife, Susan, live in Branford. They have three grown children and adoptive family.
Running for secretary of the state was “not a long-term plan of mine,” he said. But in volunteering to help with local elections, he noticed what he called issues that were not being investigated, or were dismissed. “I have a different perspective on how these things should go … I can provide some great leadership here.” In the business registration role of the secretary job, he said he offers a lot of credibility to the business community. “There’s an opportunity to reinvent this office and improve things for business.”
CT News Junkie is running an occasional series of profiles of candidates seeking state office.