Hon. Denise Merrill
Secretary of the State
30 Trinity Street
PO Box 150470
Hartford, CT 06115-0470
Elise Low, Voter Service Chair of our East Shore League, recently contacted us regarding a problem she encountered while organizing a local debate. Based upon this information, the League is writing to request that your office review the election calendar as well as your office procedures regarding the publicizing of names of registered write-in candidates. In relation to notification, we specifically recommend that your office provide online posting of registered candidates as they are determined followed by any required written notice to local town clerks.
The details are as follows.
In the process of LWV-East Shore arranging to moderate and time an East Haven mayoral candidates debate with ETV on Oct. 3, station personnel contacted them on Sept. 29, inquiring whether the local League rules would allow a "rumored" write-in candidate to participate if he were deemed to be legitimate. Ms. Low checked and the Town Clerk had no knowledge of his certification as of that date.
The would-be candidate contacted Ms. Low on Oct. 3 to complain that he had not been invited to participate in the "LWV" debate that evening and our good reputation was at stake. She told him that she would clarify the situation and cancel that evening's debate if necessary. She called the East Haven Town Clerk again who had no knowledge of his certification. She then called the election division of your office and discovered that this man was indeed duly certified to have his votes counted. She was told by Ted that he had a short list of such candidates, and said that notices would go out to the requisite Town Clerks in about two weeks.
In the end, the East Haven debate was postponed to Oct. 20 and all three candidates agreed to the new date.
As you know, the lack of timely information has many repercussions. Most importantly, the voters who use absentee ballots need a full list of candidates ASAP. Town clerks must have access to this information on a timely basis to provide it to the voters. Additionally, it makes the election season work of groups like the League of Women Voters more difficult by having to respond to calls from irate candidates, inquisitive press and requiring us to reschedule debates.
The League of Women Voters of Connecticut knows of your commitment to reducing barriers to voting. We appreciate your making immediate changes to your office procedures to ensure that registered candidates are publicized in a timely manner. We also recognize that the election calendar deadline of late October for write-in candidates complicates the issue and that the calendar would be worthy of re-examination and possibly legislative change.
If we can provide further information, please feel free to contact us or LWV East Shore Voter Service Chair Elise Low at email@example.com or 203/457-9888.
Voter Service Vice President
cc: James Spallone, Deputy Secretary of the State
Peggy Reeves, Assistant to the Secretary of the State for Elections, Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
Elise Low, LWV East Shore