With the coronavirus pandemic calling into question the safety of voting in person, the state is facilitating an unprecedented vote from home push. With that move, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill hired a third party mail vendor to send absentee ballots to voters.
Merrill said the response for absentee ballots was much bigger than they anticipated.
But with over 40 different ballots and over a quarter of a million of requests for absentee ballots -- the state decided to push the pause button to ensure that each voter received the correct ballot.
“On July 21 they did start going out. However, we discovered that because we had to write a new program in order to centrally mail all of these and we have 40 different ballot styles because we have so many different primaries we had to stop and redo the list to make sure people were getting the right ballot,” Merrill said.
Most of the absentee ballots have been mailed and voters can either mail them back or place them in the ballot box outside their local town hall. If they don’t get to return their absentee ballot in time they can also head to the polls on election day and cast their ballot that way.
State Rep. Vincent Candelora is critical.
“I’m disappointed frankly in the Secretary of the State because the most important thing was to make sure that ballots are given,” he said.
West Hartford Town Clerk Essie Labrot says it hasn’t been easy, but they are doing their best to make sure everyone who needs a ballot gets one.
“We have lists. We have lists of every person we issued the ballot to. We can tell you the date we issued it. We can check with the mailhouse so we’re doing all those checks right now today to verify that the mailhouse did in fact send out 10,020 ballots and then if there were any missed we’re catching them,” Labrot said.
Labrot is tasked with managing the mail-in vote for her town of West Hartford.
She says they can issue them a duplicate absentee ballot if they still want to vote by mail.
Candelora says with 8 days until the primary he is concerned not everyone that has requested an absentee ballot has received one.
“The town clerks are not manned enough in their offices to be able to process a thousand ballots in a given day and we’re going to have tens of thousands of ballots coming in in the next eight days and there’s no way they’re going to be able to process them. People are then going to show up at the polls to vote and they’re going to say sorry you can’t vote you applied for an absentee ballot,” Candelora said.
The Secretary of The State’s office hears what Candelora is saying, but they don’t believe it would be able to happen based on the absentee voting process that would require the clerk to not count the absentee ballot if the voter voted in person.