Government Administration and Elections Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING POLLING PLACES FOR PRIMARIES.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Government Administration and Elections
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill authorizes registrars in municipalities with 15,000 or fewer electors to reduce the number of polling places for a primary, the location of which may be the same or different than the polling places for the corresponding general election. The bill requires that the polling places for a primary remain the same as for the corresponding election if any candidate objects. If the number of polling places are reduced, the moderators may be reduced providing there is at least one certified moderator per polling place. A sign must be posted in a closed primary location if it would otherwise be open. The sign must redirect voters to the open polling places/places.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Rep Terrie Wood: Rep. Wood supports this bill. Currently it is no less expensive to hold an election for 20% of the electorate as it is for 100%.The consolidation of polling places would reduce the cost of running the election significantly, without inconveniencing voters.
Freedom of Information Commission, Colleen Murphy, Executive Director and General Counsel: The commission opposes this bill because it believes that the confidentiality provisions compromise the democratic process, including the principles of open government, where there is no apparent need to do so.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Connecticut Council of Small Towns, Betsy Gara, Executive Director: Ms. Gara stated that 50% of the state's registered voters are not eligible to participate in primaries because they are not registered with a party. The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the bill could save some towns up to $25,000 per year. This bill will help small towns be more effective and efficient in its use of polling places for primaries while not compromising its citizens the right to vote.
Registrar of Voters, Town of Darien, John Visi and Kathy Hammell: Centralized primaries would give the registrars the ability to hold the elections under more carefully monitored voting conditions and at a reduced cost to the town. The reduction in staffing would help them in their efforts to staff the election.
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), Mike Muszynski: Supports the bill with the following changes:
Apply to municipalities with populations of 40,000 or less with historic voter turnout for the same office on the ballot of 40% or less.
Require the designation of new polling place(s) no later than120 days prior to Primary Day.
Require notice to be provided to the candidates, Secretary of State, applicable municipal town clerk and electors within certain timeframes
Require signs to be posted at polling places to provide guidance to electors as to proper location to cast their vote.
League of Women Voters of Connecticut, Inc,Yvonne D. Senturian,Election Law:
The short window between the deadline for candidate objections to SOTS (30 days prior to election) would seem to present logistical difficulties; question why candidate objections, which automatically reverse consolidation, would remain anonymous, in light of FOIA.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Registrar of Voters, Town of Greenwich, Fred DeCaro III and Sharon Vecchiolla: Best way to encourage voter turnout at all elections is to have consistency in the location of polling places.
Reported by: Maureen O'Reilly
Date: March 31, 2016