by Dominic Rapini, Candidate for Connecticut Secretary of the State, ©2021
(Aug. 24, 2021) — With the municipal elections rapidly approaching, Hartford Lawmakers are dictating new election laws without the funding to ensure they can be implemented effectively. This is like someone “writing checks with no money in the account”. Using the worn-out COVID related excuses for increasing mail in voting, their recommendations fall on our election officials in our 169 towns and cities, who are already short on resources and budget, budgets that were locked in the Spring. Most towns do not have the personnel or funds to process abnormally higher levels of requests for Absentee ballot applications.
Thankfully, this is not a mandate–but the extension creates 169 different problems and public expectations. Some towns who can afford the expense, will mail out ballot applications. However, others will not provide this service due to budget constraints. Thankfully ballot applicants can be downloaded by voters. After the 2020 elections the expectation has been set in the minds of voters that they will automatically have their ballot mailed to them. Now, 169 city and town clerks will have to manage this expectation. Now we have a situation where neighboring towns mail out ballot applications while others cannot. This creates a mass disparity in mail in voting access.
Responsible lawmakers should have allocated funding to our towns to make this law work or not pass the extension. Instead, our municipal election teams are scrambling to serve their constituents and pay the bill. (See Ken Dixon) and (Register Citizen)
What makes this especially frustrating for our state’s taxpayers is the colossal waste of tax dollars in 2020. Last year, $7 million dollars (LINK) was spent by the Secretary of State for new ballot applications even though the same applications are freely downloadable from the CGA website. This money should have been used to help election officials in our cities and towns.
Sadly, the Secretary of State’s office resorted to the predictable “blame game” by criticizing Republicans. This blame game undermines the credibility of the Secretary of State’s office as well as the citizens’ trust in that office. The plain fact is that no one could have stopped the majority party from passing short sighted legislation without the proper funding. This is another example of why we need to elevate the conversation and focus on solving problems, rather than creating more. It also highlights why the Secretary of the State must be the most non-partisan of our constitutional offices.
It is important that we listen to our veteran election professionals in our 169 towns and cities. If you listen, they will tell you what they need. I am listening.