HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Four of the candidates in next month’s Hartford mayoral election stood in front of City hall Monday morning to say they have heard of and witnessed people being turned away at the polls when they should have been allowed to vote.
“Our vote is the most sacred right that we have,” said Mayoral candidate Giselle Jacobs.
But four of the candidates for Mayor of Hartford say too many people who look like them are losing that right. Take candidate Stan McCauley, for instance.
“This last primary I went to the polls to vote, and I’d moved and I’ve never had this problem. They couldn’t find my name,” McCauley said, incredulously. “I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.'”
Eventually, he was able to vote, but these candidates say, too often, people are intimidated into not voting. They say there is a national effort to discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos at the polls, and that it is not just something that happens in the south or in Republican-controlled states.
“In the capitol city of the state of Connecticut, we do everything we can to discourage black and Latino folks from participating in this election,” said former mayor and current candidate Eddie Perez.
Gabe Rosenberg, communications director for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, sent a written response that reads, in part: “Connecticut has guarded the right to vote and not made the restrictive changes to election laws that other states have made over the last few years. Connecticut’s voter identification law has not changed for many years and remains flexible enough to accommodate every eligible voter. We remain committed to defending every Connecticut citizen’s access to the ballot box.”
Current Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin was not at City Hall this holiday, but his campaign put out a statement that reads, in part: “I want as many people as possible to vote in Hartford, and I’m a strong supporter of Election Day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and early voting — and we’ve worked hard to encourage all voters to vote, no matter whom they support.”
Four candidates looking to beat him agree with that sentiment, but say the system still has problems.
“We’re here to make it known that we are no longer tolerating voter suppression because it’s illegal,” said mayoral candidate Aaron Lewis.
There are some federal standards, but state law says voters can present their social security card or a pre-printed form of identification at the polls, and do not even have to have a drivers license to vote. For more information, click here.