Early Voting in Connecticut – Part 5 – Choices and Disappointments

This is the fifth in a series on Early Voting in Connecticut. See <Part 4 – Electronic Pollbooks>

In this post we will cover the choices for implementing Early Voting facing the General Assembly along with the disappointments associated with each choice.

Disappointments are based on the expectations outlined in our first post. See <Part 1 – Expectations>

Option 1 – Fourteen or So Long Days of Early Voting Places

By this we mean, in general, following the request of the ACLU and the provisions of the For the People Act. Perhaps ten days or twenty-five. Likely requiring voting on at least two weekends including the Saturday and Sunday before Election Day. Open in the mornings and evening hours, at least during the week. Uniformity across the State. An early voting place similar to a polling place, i.e. checkin, ballot clerks, machine tenders and scanners – giving the voters who make overvotes the opportunity to spoil a ballot and vote another. Similar to what we see in other states, including CA, CO, GA, etc.

Disappointments:

Registrars and other election officials. In a small town with one polling place today. It will change the number of pollworker days from perhaps 8-10 to about 100! Finding citizens willing to work that many 16 to 17 hour days will be a challenge. Staffing, presumably, with inexperienced pollworkers will add to the challenges. Further it will be more difficult to find voting locations, especially during the week, that are not already used for other things and that have sufficient parking. It will greatly increase the stress and work for registrars as they do the normal work preparing for Election Day – especially tight preparing pollbooks between that last Sunday and Election Day. We expect many will join those that resigned in 2022. As an experienced pollworker, I doubt I could serve more than one or two 16 hour days in addition to Election Day.

Not much different in mid-size towns like mine, with six polling places and central count absentee,  about 70 Election Day officials, this would add perhaps another 140 early voting polling place staffing days. That is plenty of novice officials, plenty of work for registrars, and stress. Including problems finding appropriate venues. Even for large cities it will be significant, perhaps doubling staffing.

The Public. Presumably many will want to try out early voting the first day that seems convenient and the last.  So, there will likely be lines as we see in every election in Georgia. The public has been promised no more lines in Connecticut – yet there are none today, except for big problems like missing pollbooks, or at Election Day Registration. In fact, every option we discuss may have that same problem. It is especially likely for any option that opens early or closes late. Especially on that last Sunday if “Souls to the Polls” materializes in Connecticut.

Perhaps we should start slowly and if early voting is popular, work up to Option 1. More on that in the next two options, and in our final comment.

Option 2 – Four to Six Days, Six to Seven-Hour Early Voting Days

This is a compromise between satisfying the public’s expectations for polling place like voting places, but with fewer and shorter days for officials.

Four days, starting 10 days before Election Day: Saturday and Sunday 9:00am to 3:00pm, Tuesday 6:00am to 1:00pm, and Wednesday 2:00pm to 8:00pm. This would provide the possibility of election officials to do multiple days – a single Moderator (or with an Assistant) might be able to cover all these days and tabulate to votes on election night. Registrars would have more time to prepare pollbooks and otherwise for Election Day. Voters would have an opportunity to vote at any convenient time, weekend, early morning, after work, and at lunch time.

Six days, starting 10 days before Election Day: Saturday and Sunday 9:00am to 3:00pm, Monday and Tuesday 6:00am to 1:00pm, Wednesday and Thursday 2:00pm to 8:00pm. A bit more work, but more opportunities for voters.

Disappointments:

The Public. Who were expecting more days and will still see lines.

Election Officials. Who may be somewhat relieved but still face quite a bit of work and other challenges.

Option 3 – In-Person Absentee Voting

This would be voting very similar to the absentee voting that occurs today when one goes into a municipal clerk’s office, makes an application, votes, and hands in their absentee ballot. Except that any registered voter could do it. Clerks would need to be open on at least one weekend and in many cases open more hours than today, perhaps hiring one or two additional staff.

It would be more and less work for registrars and pollworkers. More checking-off of pollbooks between the end of early voting and election day. Today that happens on Friday and Monday before Election Day. As long as early voting ended before Friday, the only change would be more staffing for absentee checking and counting, with a somewhat smaller polling place staff on Election Day.

Some have suggested going to the registrars’ office and voting via machine for many hours of availability, yet that is really a variation on option 1, perhaps for small towns. It would still require Democrat and Republican Registrars or Deputies be present to correct registration errors, perhaps a checker, ballot clerk and definitely a machine tender all visible to each other and voters – not an option when you expect a volume of voters.

Disappointments:

The Public. Who were expecting that polling place like voting experience, the opportunity to be protected from overvoting, and the opportunity for correcting erroneously not being on the voters registration list – presumably that would require a call to the registrars office, visiting the registrars office when it was open, or requiring the registrars office to be open all the hours of early voting.

Once again, long lines are possible, especially if early morning or evening opportunities are limited and if on that last Sunday if “Souls to the Polls” materializes in Connecticut.

Finally, A Concern – The Experiences of California and Colorado

Many say the ideal for Connecticut should be California and Colorado. I would not emulate everything they do. They have ten or more days of early voting in vote centers, people can vote where they live or where they work, they have absentee voting, in fact they now send ballots to every voter to mail-in or drop off. Pretty close to the final draft of the For the People Act. They did not arrive there overnight. It has been perhaps 20-30 years in the making in each state.

Contrary to what the ACLU and Brennan Center would have us believe, we should not be trying to emulate the likes of Georgia, Florida and many other southern states that have the “Highest Early In Person Voting Rates” (see the map on page 3 of Brennan Center report, and the exclusion of California and Colorado from much of their report.)  Those states have high in-person early voting apparently because they try to suppress absentee voting and do not provide enough polling places and voting machines on election day.

On the other hand, California and Colorado both seem to have the same experience. Until recently, the voters have chosen to use 70% main-in voting, 20% Election Day voting, and just 10% early voting. The latest trends in both states are closer to 90% mail-in voting.

As we have said, early in-person voting is expensive. If we are trending our policies toward California and Colorado, especially if we pass the 2024 constitutional amendment for no-excuse absentee voting in Connecticut. Why follow California and Colorado to massive early in-person early voting for just 5% of voters who could all easily choose to vote by mail or on Election Day?  Why not benefit/save from their experience, before they do?  Start slow, gain experience, add mail-in voting, and learn from our own experience.

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.