While there have certainly been instances of voter fraud in Connecticut, including the recent primary in Bridgeport, election officials in Connecticut say there are safeguards in place and no one should be concerned that their vote won’t count Tuesday.
“Look back in Bridgeport where somebody did harvest applications and ballots it was discovered when that person went to vote,” Berlin Town Clerk Kate Wall said Monday.
Wall, who is also president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, said nothing is 100% fraud proof “but we’re very close.”
When it comes to absentee ballots, a person has to apply for it and then they have to make sure to sign the inner envelope of the ballot for it to be counted. Each ballot is given a specific serial number and each signature is checked, Wall said.
“It’s a cumbersome process, but that helps in preventing voter fraud,” she added.
Michael Brandi, executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said Connecticut’s elections are secure and the state has “fantastic local election officials” making sure every vote counts.
Brandi’s agency is responsible for investigating allegations of voter fraud. He said the state has tracked nearly 250 such complaints since the 1970s.
”We treat every allegation seriously and investigate every one,” he said Monday. “Most are dismissed because we find no factual basis underlying the claims. The public should have a high degree of confidence in the integrity of our elections because that’s what the facts show.”
There will be a hotline set up for the election (866-SEEC-INFO) and anyone with any complaints from the polls is welcome to call and get an immediate response to their issue. Brandi said most are minor questions or concerns and many of the calls involve voters looking for their polling place.
“We are doing our job and making sure election security is a priority and every voter should feel confident their vote is going to count,” Brandi said.
When it comes to someone in a polling place challenging another voter’s eligibility to vote, Secretary of the State Mark Kohler said that “only election officials, voters themselves, designees of the Secretary, and members of the news media are allowed in polling places.”
He said anyone can challenge a voter’s eligibility to vote, but challenges to voters must not be indiscriminate and are made under oath. If this happens, the moderator then decides on the right of the challenged person to vote. If the moderator decides against a challenged voter, that voter has the right to both a challenged ballot and a provisional ballot.
“I wanted to point out that challenging a voter’s eligibility is a very serious matter. Challenges must be legitimate and made under oath,” Kohler said. “Challenges that have no merit or basis will likely delay the voting process and may even cause apprehension on the part of eligible voters. There shouldn’t be any obstacles standing in the way of an eligible voter.”
Following former President Donald Trump’s claims that the election was stolen, but without any evidence of widespread voter fraud Republicans have become distrustful of the process.
The Republican candidate for secretary of the state Dominic Rapini and his group filed hundreds of complaints with the SEEC.
Rapini made a number of tweets in the aftermath of the 2020 election as former President Donald Trump sought to overturn the election results through unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. On Jan. 6, 2021, as a group of Trump supporters rushed the U.S. Capitol, Rapini tweeted a response to the secretary of the state’s account, accusing Democrats of engaging in a coup and using the hashtag “#StopTheSteal2021.”
Rapini rejected the Democrats claim that he was an “election denier.”
“I’ve said Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States and I’ve said that on multiple occasions,” Rapini has said. “What I’ve done, which I think is the responsibility of every voter, is ask questions about elections and since 2019, I’ve been working very hard to understand how Connecticut elections work and understand the problems that we have, which are considerable.”
The SEEC publicly criticized Rapini and other members of the group Fight Voter Fraud, Inc. for filing dozens of unsubstantiated claims about fraud during the election. Rapini has said that he does not believe the commission did an adequate job investigating some of his claims.
“We have very secure elections in our state because we have a paper record for how every person voted,” Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who was secretary of the state for several years, said. “We know that thousands of people have already cast their absentee ballots and election officials will, tomorrow at 8, be making those counts.”
About when should we expect results?
“It will depend on how close the races are. We’ll just have to see. I certainly can’t predict but I can say that our elections will be fraud-free and secure,” Bysiewicz said.
Republican Rep. Laura Devlin who is running for lieutenant governor said the counting will begin at 8 p.m.
“The expectation for the people of our state is that our votes are cast by 8 p.m., shortly thereafter if you’ve been in line. The absentee ballots have been returned. That counting begins and we get that process done,” Devlin said.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski said he trusted the results of the 2018 election and sees no reason not to trust the integrity of the election system this year.
“I didn’t dispute anything last time, Mark. We lost by 40,000 votes,” Stefanowski said Monday. “I thought it was the correct thing to do. I’m hoping that it’s a fair and consistent process. I have to assume that it will be.”
As of Monday, more than 123,000 Connecticut residents had turned in absentee ballots, according to the secretary of the state’s office. That’s more than 76% of the roughly 160,000 residents who requested ballots. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said those figures were a sign of heightened interest and enthusiasm.
“I’m going in part by the number of people who have told me they already voted. At almost every place I’ve gone in the last 10 days, two or three people tell me ‘You can talk to me but I’ve already voted.’ … That’s different than my experience in past elections,” Blumenthal said.