Person of the Week
June Hansen Brings ‘People Person’ Skills to Registrars’ Office
Longtime Registrar of Voters June Hansen is as prepared as can be for the upcoming November elections. (Photo courtesy of June Hansen )
Every time there’s an election or referendum in Clinton, people pack into the Town Hall Green Room as polls close and spend the night excitedly talking until the moment the results are about to be announced. Then then the crowd goes suddenly silent with anticipation. For the last 20 years June Hansen has been the person to break that silence when she announces the results.
June has served as the Democratic registrar of voters since November of 2000. June says she was inspired to pursue the position after a conversation with Diane Shepard, a previous registrar of voters.
“I went and talked to Diane, and she recommended I’d be good because I know a lot of people in town,” June says.
June had been working as a stay at home mom, but as her kids became older, she was looking for ways to get involved. The opening to become the registrar was the perfect opportunity for her.
As a registrar of voters, June says the “most important job” is processing applications from people who register to vote. During a referendum, June says the work isn’t too bad because the machines tabulate the voting results reasonably fast.
However, elections are a different story.
“We really start to get busy in September and it goes right through the election night,” June says.
During that time, June needs to keep track of any changes to election protocols or computer systems, making sure everyone abides by state statutes, and dealing with the influx of people who register to vote, which can be especially voluminous during a presidential election.
“We commiserate with the town clerk a lot,” June says, laughing.
Election day means setting up the room where people will vote, setting up the machines and dealing with last-minute registrations. June says that both she and Wendy McDermott, the Republican registrar of voters, are sticklers for following the protocols to the letter of the rules.
The role has its rewards.
“At the end of the night, when we’ve has a very successful night,” she says, “Wendy and I look at each other and say, ‘You know, what? We did good.’”
Her most memorable moment as registrar was during the 2015 municipal election. That night, in the race for first selectman, Republican Bruce Farmer and five-time incumbent Democrat Willie Fritz tied in voting.
“We sat in the Rose Room recounting six times. We all looked at each other and said, ‘Oh my God, no way,’” June remembers. “You could hear a pin drop when we announced the results.”
Farmer was eventually declared the winner by a single vote in a recount.
Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the election this year has been thrown into a whirlwind of uncertainty. The primary has been moved to August and there are questions about how to safely allow voting from so many potential voters.
June says that while the powers that be figure out what the best course of action will be, she will be ready to implement whatever they decide.
“We want voters to know their vote matters. When the plans are set in stone, we’ll deal with it then,” June says of the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 election.
June has spent the last 20 years working at Integrated Dermatology in Clinton. June started as a medical assistant and currently works as a receptionist.
“I love the people there, I love learning about them,” says June.
Being a people person is also a huge asset to her work as a registrar, according to June. Having an easygoing personality can be an advantage as protocols change between elections and voters may feel anxious or confused by the changes.
“You have to be sensitive to these people. It’s their constitutional right and you have to remember that the average person walking through that door hasn’t been there in a while,” June points out.
While Clinton has an active and engaged voter base in municipal elections and budget referenda, the presidential elections see substantially more people voting in only that election.
June was born in Philadelphia and was raised in New Jersey, but has called Clinton home since 1973. In her spare time June enjoys reading, gardening, and participating in an antique car club with her husband Don. June also enjoys spending time with her five children DJ, Jonathan, Andrew, Ashley, and Abby, as well as her six grandchildren.
Besides her work as a registrar, June has also served on the Board of Police Commissioners from 2013 to 2017 and worked with the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department for 26 years starting in 1979. During her time with the fire department, June served as a president and vice president. Getting involved in town affairs is something that June says she came to later in life as she looked for ways to keep busy. June is a justice of the peace and proudly states she’s married about 65 couples.
“The people are my favorite part of Clinton by far,” she says. “It’s what it’s all about.