The Connecticut Republican Party is following the national party’s lead in recruiting volunteers to monitor what’s happening at polling places on Election Day. The Democratic Party is also recruiting volunteers but what those volunteers can do in Connecticut is limited.
“It’s not a great system here so you could have a lot of voters on Election Day be disenfranchised, their votes not count, the ballot didn’t get there in time, a local registrar throws it out or a local town clerk so the only way to guarantee your vote counts 100% is to vote in person,” JR Romano, Republican Party chairman, said.
Romano emailed members of his party and asked for volunteers to be an “army for Trump,” at the polls.
“The Republicans recruiting an army, as they call it, are assuming that voters are going to cheat,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said.
There is not a lot of reported voter fraud in Connecticut. According to the state Elections Enforcement Commission there have only been 296 complaints of absentee ballot fraud and six complaints of in-person fraud since 1976.
“In Connecticut since 1976, with millions of votes cast in local, state and national elections, the incidents of fraud are absolutely negligible," SEEC Executive Director Michael Brandi said.
“JR knows there are no systemic problems or systemic fraud in Connecticut and his letter to voters is saying that voters are going to cheat and that’s not the case in Connecticut,” DiNardo said.
This is the first year a large number of Connecticut’s 2.2 million voters will be able to mail in their absentee ballots.
“We don’t have a system for mass mail-in balloting like some of the other states that the Democrats tout. Those states tested the system for years,” Romano said.
”Fraud doesn’t always happen with absentee ballots but when it does happen, it’s through the mail," he added.
Romano said asking for volunteers at the polls is not a new thing. In Connecticut they’re called unofficial checkers and they sit in the polling place behind the official checker to let their party know which voters have voted.
“The unofficial checkers are usually there so we can identify who has already voted so when the headquarters is calling people to make sure they have come out to vote, we’re not calling people who have already voted,” DiNardo said.
Sue Larsen, president of the Registrar of Voters Association of Connecticut, said Connecticut has unofficial checkers, but not poll watchers.
“Poll watchers are people who come into the polls and are walking around and making sure people are doing everything correctly, the way they think it ought to be done, we don’t have that in Connecticut,” Larsen said.