Elections

Absentee Ballot Questions

One voter shared his experience voting by mail with NBC Connecticut Investigates.

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A Connecticut man told NBC Connecticut Investigates he had concerns after trying, and failing, to mail an absentee ballot in last month’s state primary.

While the voter accepted some of the blame, he still had questions considering national concerns about mail-in voting.

The voter, from Newington, did not want to give his name.  He told NBC Connecticut Investigates he’s voting absentee this year because of coronavirus.  He added it’s easy to make a mistake with absentee ballots, and the way his ballot was routed through the USPS did not give him confidence either

The voter said the ballot never got counted, in part because he incorrectly folded the ballot with his address showing in the transparent envelope window instead of the address for Newington town hall.  It got sent back to him.

“The design of, of the ballot makes it very easy to make a mistake, and not have your ballot delivered,” the voter said.

After getting the ballot returned, he did not drop it off with the town clerk.  He said this happened right after Tropical Storm Isaias, and he was dealing with a substantial home cleanup.

The Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut said however, the envelopes used in absentee ballots for the general election will not have that window, just the correct town hall mailing address on the outside. 

There was another question about the returned ballot - even though it had to travel six-tenths of a mile from a Newington post office to town hall, it was routed through Westchester County, New York.

“Given the concerns regarding the post office that have been on the press lately, certainly a way of slowing down the delivery of mail is to send it on a nice long journey before it arrives at its destination,” the voter said.

The voter explained he mailed the absentee ballot August 5, a day after Tropical Storm Isaias.  A post office spokesperson said there were power issues after Isaias at its processing facility in Hartford, where this voter’s ballot would have normally gone, so mail during that time was routed to Westchester. 

Still, the voter says for the general election he will use a municipal ballot drop box outside his town hall to deliver his absentee ballot. 

“I have concerns.  So I feel it’s a little bit more in my control to actually take it to the dropbox.”  Most towns and cities in Connecticut have ballot drop boxes.

The Secretary of the State’s office told NBC Connecticut Investigates that a large amount of mail from Litchfield, New Haven, and Fairfield counties is regularly processed through the USPS facility in Westchester, due to the closure of a processing facility in that part of Connecticut a few years ago.

The Secretary of the State’s office added it is working with the USPS to see if postal facilities in those counties could identify the absentee ballots as they come in, and route them directly to town clerks in Connecticut to keep the ballots in state, and quickly delivered.

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