Supervised absentee voting must be expanded to include all absentee voters. Presently only voters that live in the institutions specified in CGS 9-159Q are protected by supervised absentee balloting when 20 or more applications are received from the residents of these institutions.
Other individuals who vote by absentee ballot are not protected from abusive party workers. Supervised absentee voting by applicants from the same street address now occurs at the discretion of the registrars, but should be required. The absentee ballots would not be mailed, but would be given to election officials to deliver to the voter in person. The voter would complete the ballot under the supervision of the officials. The completed ballot would then be returned to the Town Clerk and be counted on Election Day.
It is time to end the corrupt absentee ballot process. We in Bridgeport have been victimized and embarrassed by this practice time and time again.
Under supervised voting, representatives of each party would visit the voters at home. They would insure that the voter has a valid reason to vote by absentee ballot. Supervised voting would eliminate people using the absentee ballot for convenience. More importantly it would eliminate the pressure people do feel with party workers peering over their shoulders while they mark their “not so secret” ballot and insure the privacy and secrecy of their vote.
Under current practice party workers can sign out dozens of absentee applications, distribute them to voters, return them to the Town Clerk, track the application and revisit the voter when it is delivered by the post office. The process creates pressure for the voter to vote the way the worker wants them to vote for fear of losing friends, jobs or government benefits.
A better way is to allow the voter to contact the Town Clerk via telephone or email and request a ballot which would be delivered by the election officials. The application process should be confidential so that voters cannot be “tracked” and then contacted, influenced or intimidated.
Election laws would need to be changed to allow for universal supervised absentee voting. Before the current system of supervised absentee voting was enacted, an experiment was conducted in several cities and towns including Bridgeport. Based on the success of the experiment, supervised absentee voting was approved. The September 2020 Primary election would provide a suitable test. Cities would incur additional personnel costs but have more faith in the integrity of our elections.
John Rodriguez is a Republican candidate for mayor of Bridgeport.