Sunday, September 20, 2020

Local News

Clinton Ready for an Unusual Election

The Presidential Election on Nov. 3 will be one unlike any other, but Clinton’s elections officials are confident they can handle the challenges.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s expected that the town will see an unprecedented increase in absentee ballots this year. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said that 68 percent of voters statewide used absentee ballots in the Aug. 11 primary. Under normal circumstances, that number is in the single digits.

All voters are eligible to vote by absentee ballot for the 2020 election by checking the COVID-19 excuse on the application. Although absentee ballot applications will be mailed to every eligible voter, they are also available in English and Spanish at myvote.ct.gov/absentee. Voters can check their registration status at myvote.ct.gov/lookup.

Town Clerk Sharon Urrichio said that in a normal year she would order around 4,000 absentee ballots. This year, she ordered 10,000. In the last presidential election, a majority of Clinton’s voters participated, with a turnout of 77 percent. Clinton had 9,919 registered voters as of press time. At the Aug. 11 primary Uricchio noted that the vast majority of absentee ballots were from Democratic voters while the overwhelming majority of in-person voters were Republicans.

Despite the attention that absentee ballots are getting this year, voting by absentee ballot won’t be the only way to vote. Polls will still be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters have until Monday, Oct. 26 to register in person or via mail with a postmark by that date. Election day registration is also available. A ballot drop box has been placed in front of Town Hall for people to drop off both completed absentee ballot applications and the ballots themselves; the box is checked daily.

Even with the after-effects of a tropical storm that left the majority of the town without power, both Urrichio and Democratic Registrar of Voters June Hansen said that the Aug. 11 primary went off smoothly.

For voters who might have questions, Hansen will host a Zoom conference for voters on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. with the Henry Carter Hull Library. The presentation is free and open to all. During the conference, Hansen will answer questions and address concerns about the election process this year. Registration for the event is required and interested parties can register or submit questions by emailing sarah@hchlibrary.org.

Of possible changes that may be made to accommodate social distancing guidelines, Hansen said, “We’re looking at the dynamic, on how the room will be set up.”

Hansen said that the hallway next to the Green Room will be used for additional space.

“We’re very comfortable, we’re going to have increased staffing,” Hansen said.

While the increased regulations and overhauls to the usual voting experience may concern some voters, Hansen wants Clinton residents know that she’s confident the town can handle it.

“[Republican Registrar of Voters] Wendy [McDermott] and I are the dynamic duo. We bounce a lot of ideas off each other and Sharon so we’re on the same page and we’re very efficient,” Hansen said.

Hansen said that both new and veteran poll workers are prepared to handle the new regulations.

“They’re very efficient. They know what to look for,” said Hansen.

Hansen said she is still in the process of determining how many workers will be needed.

“We have the potential to have a big increase in election day registrations,” said Hansen.

Hansen was complimentary toward the state and said that the town is getting a lot help.

“They’ve really listened to all of us,” sad Hansen.

The town will be getting monetary help to assist with aspects of election day such as increased staffing and more personal protective equipment. Uricchio estimated that the town will get about $7,000 back from the state in election reimbursements.


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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