Hundreds of absentee ballots returned after primary election in Enfield will not be counted


ENFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — The integrity of the August Primary is being questioned. Local election officials in the town of Enfield have received more than 200 absentee ballots weeks after the election. The State says these votes will not count.

Inside the vault at Enfield Town hall, more than 200 absentee ballots are sitting in a box, unopened.

“When I saw hundreds of ballots, it truly disenfranchised a lot of people,” said Mary Ann Turner, a local state representative candidate. She alerted election officials: “I don’t think people realized their votes didn’t count.”

Turner’s registrar of voters started to notice an unusual amount of ballots coming into Town Hall weeks after the election.

“We can’t see what date they signed it, if they dated and sent it before the election or after,” according to Tom Kienzler Enfield Registrar of Voters.

The U.S. Postal Service postmark on some of these ballots says “received Aug. 27.” The town clerk rejected the ballots the same day citing “received too late.” Governor Ned Lamont allowed ballots to be postmarked by election day, which was Aug. 11.

Why was there a delay?

News 8 reached out to the United State’s Postal Service. We have yet to hear back.

News 8’s Jodi Latina presented the issue to Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. She explained, “It’s hard to tell in a situation like this what went wrong.”

What happens now?

By law, the ballots are kept in the vault for 22 months unless someone gets a court order to open them up.

Turner says, “Without being able to open the ballots and look at them I don’t know if we’ll ever know.”

How widespread is the issue?

News 8 reached out to the Town Clerk’s Association. Their President Anna Pozniak tells News 8 normal rejection rates for absentee ballots are 5%. Enfield is odd; the rate was 10%.
Will these voters be told their vote did not count?

Secretary Merrill says, “There is no real protocol for this. We can’t cover every eventuality in our manual. Nothing like this was ever envisioned.”

Kienzler is concerned for the November election: “If the same thing happens again, it won’t be 237, it will be like 1,500 ballots.”

Election officials say until they get this sorted out you should vote in person or put your ballot in a dropbox outside your town hall to make sure your vote is secure.

If a voter files a complaint the State Elections Enforcement Commission can launch an investigation. Meantime, Secretary Merrill says her office will look into it.

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


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