VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — The Town of Vernon has discovered that some of their voters have received the wrong ballots in the mail. The Secretary of the State’s office says the issue is due to town error.
Tuesday, the office of the mayor of Vernon reported the town is taking proactive steps to ensure voting integrity after town officials discovered errors with absentee ballots.
Town officials say they “discovered a flaw in the Secretary of the State’s Centralized Voter Registration System that has caused some voters to receive the wrong ballots.”
Every voter in the state received an absentee ballot application several weeks ago ahead of the November election. For those who returned their applications and requested mail-in ballots, their ballots were mailed out Oct. 2.
Soon after, voters contacted Vernon’s Town Clerk’s office reporting they have received ballots for the wrong voting district, meaning that some voters had ballots listing candidates that were not in their voting district and for whom they can not cast a vote.
“The integrity of our voting system is essential to our democracy,” Vernon Mayor Dan Champagne said. “We are taking steps to make sure our voters receive the proper ballots so that their votes count.”
Vernon Town Administrator Michael Purcaro said, “A coding error caused the wrong voting district to be listed on the mailing label which resulted in the wrong ballot being sent to the affected voters.”
“We were never notified about this problem by the Secretary of the State and only found out about it after discovering and investigating it ourselves,” claimed Purcaro.
He added, “Despite this lack of notice or guidance from the State, the Town has implemented procedures to correct the problem and protect one of our most basic civil rights –the ability to vote in a free and fair election.”
State officials tell News 8 they were aware of the problem and that the issue affected registered voters in Vernon and Wallingford.
Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesperson for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, says this issue is entirely on the Registrar of Voters for Town of Vernon.
Rosenberg says the town caused the error by incorrectly entering wrong voting information out to voters by entering municipal rather than state election info, which caused inaccuracies in the absentee ballots.
The town of Vernon sent out a blatantly dishonest press release tonight blaming the Office of the Secretary of the State for their own error causing 100 voters to get the wrong ballot. The local registrars of voters entered the wrong information into the database, causing voters to get the wrong ballots. There is no flaw in the voter registration system and no coding error, just incompetence in Vernon Town Hall. The voters of Vernon deserve better.– Gabe Rosenberg, General Counsel, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill
He added, there were 160 other towns that didn’t have a problem with this process and the secretary didn’t appreciate the Town of Vernon blaming her office for these errors: “What Vernon is doing erodes the trust in the voters in the election process.”
Vernon’s Town Clerk Karen Kaigle says the town has “internal controls in place to ensure that the proper absentee ballot is mailed to anyone who requests one.” And adds, “For those who received absentee ballots before the system error was discovered, we have procedures in place to verify, without opening the ballots, that the voter received the correct ballot. If an error is detected, we will contact the voter to ensure he or she receives the right ballot.”
Officials remind voters who have received their absentee ballot in the mail to double-check that it is in fact for the district in which you are registered. If it is not, call your respective town government.