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CT’s August presidential primary taking shape; some questioning secure ballot boxes

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — President Donald Trump has authorized $425 million through the Help America Vote Act for states to use on election security measures.

A second round of money was approved through the COVID-19 CARES Act.

However, there are still big concerns over the state’s August 11 presidential primary because of the anticipated widespread use of absentee ballots.

Ballot applications for the August primary hit mailboxes over the weekend. They were only sent to registered Democrats and Republicans.

State issued ballot boxes have been delivered to cities and towns.

“These are treated like a mailbox and are actually more secure,” explained Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, (D) Connecticut.

Reasons to vote by absentee ballot now include COVID-19 per Governor Ned Lamont’s executive order.

RELATED: Recruitment effort announced for CT poll workers as changes in elections made amid COVID-19 crisis

“Our fear was this big change would be difficult to inform people of exactly what they need to do,” Merrill explained.

There have been several lawsuits filed – one in the State Supreme Court. Republican candidates for Congress are calling the governor’s Executive Order “unconstitutional.”

Several Republicans, including State Senator Paul Formica, said using the absentee ballot during the pandemic is appropriate; expanding it for November is another discussion.

“What we have to do as a legislature is make sure there is safe voting for this pandemic, this November [election], and August is a dry run to see how that works,” Formica, (R) East Lyme, said.

The more than $17 million that has been authorized for the state elections through federal and state election grants will pay for cybersecurity, absentee ballot printing, postage and polling site safety, which will including masks and hand sanitizer.

News 8 has confirmed a Rhode Island company named “Cathedral” is the company sending the applications and the ballots in the mail.

Official ballots will not be available until July 21.

Local registrars purge files in January to clear voter rolls of people who have died or moved.

The data used for the ballot application mailings for the August primary was updated in June. What about fraud?

Secretary Merrill warns, “You would have to be a forger to forge a signature and the penalty for that alone is five years in prison, or 5,000 fine or both.”

When you send the application back, election officials said to make sure the right address is in the window. It should be that of the town clerk. Also, don’t lick the envelope to secure the flap instead, use a wet sponge.

When you eventually get your ballot, you can either hand-deliver it to your town clerk or if you are comfortable, drop it in one of the ballot boxes. Eventually, the sealed ballots will be collected by town clerks from the boxes and run into voting machines for tabulation on election night.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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