Connecticut dodges EDR bullet. How long will EDR dodge the Civil Rights bullet?

In this election as in recent elections, we issued our Election Day Registration Warning to voters. We have been issuing warnings to the General Assembly for several years as well. We have warned that it is a “Civil Rights violation waiting to happen.” since the Secretary of State declared that voters in line at 8:00pm could not have the opportunity to register and vote unless officials completed their registration by 8:00pm.

Here is our latest testimony to the General Assembly: <read> And that of Fairfield Registrar Matt Waggner’s which I support <read>

Yesterday, there was great concern when for the third time in three even year elections, voters were deprived of registering and voting due to Secretary Merrill’s ruling and inadequate work by registrars. Read the New Haven Independent’s story: Ballot Pandemonium: Machines Break All Over Town; Voters Wait Hours; Stefanowski Seeks Injunction <read>

Meanwhile, the city was overwhelmed by hundreds of voters at a time who wanted to register and vote Tuesday under the state’s Election Day Registration (EDR) program. It was the third straight year that people waited in line to register and vote.

People waited four hours to vote.

By day’s end it appeared that hundreds of the people in line — mostly Yale students — wouldn’t be able to register in time (8 p.m.) to cast ballots. “Let us vote!” they chanted.

The secretary of the state’s office — which was aware that New Haven had had the same crisis in the last two even-year elections — dispatched “every volunteer attorney we had down there to help them,” said the office’s spokesperson, Gabe Rosenberg.

The attorneys advised New Haven to separate first-time voters from the rest of the line. Under the law, those first-time voters were allowed to attest en masse that they’d never voted before in Connecticut, and move right ahead to step three. Officials had those students attest all at once by voice. That got rid of the back-up.

“Out of an abundance of caution,” officials had set aside that special group’s votes in case questions get raised later.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski’s gubernatorial campaign filed an injunction in Hartford Superior Court to make sure ballots cast after 8 p.m. by voters who registered that day were segregated from the totals.

Stefanowski’s campaign hired Herb Shephardson to file the injunction to make sure New Haven and Mansfield [where the Secretary also sent help] segregated those ballots.

While some might applaud the Secretary sending help, it also adds to the charges of a civil rights violation if there were other towns with voters in line, where similar help was not offered.

The General Assembly has been concerned with this issue for the last three years, but likely due to pressure from our 340 Registrars, no bill has come close to consideration for a vote in either chamber.

After this third debacle, associated publicity, and finally some concern by the state ACLU, perhaps there will be a change.  Do not count on it, since by morning it was clear that the EDR votes would not matter as there was a clear winner in the Governor’s race followed by a prompt concession by the other candidate. sadly, our history with election concerns is to quickly move on from concerns, once a clear winner has been determined.




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