Lack of 20K absentee ballots send local election officials scrambling

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — With less than a week until the August primary, local election officials are scrambling.

Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill hired a Rhode Island company to print absentee ballot applications and ballots but it has failed to deliver.

More than 3,000 people in Wethersfield applied for an absentee ballot for the Aug. 11 primary.

“It’s hard to imagine all of these ballots and applications we’ve received,” Wethersfield Town Clerk, Sue Schroeder, said. “Ten times as many as we do in a state primary or presidential preference primary.”

Now, she and two staff members are trying to process all the paperwork.

They were on track until the state notified all town clerks — with less than a week to go until the election — that 20,000 ballots are not coming.

Now, local election officials have to figure it out. In this town, that means getting 150 ballots to voters in time for them to fill them out and return them before the polls close.

“We got 95 to 100 of those processed,” Schroeder said. “We are working really hard to get those other 50 done.”

In the meantime, the registrars around the state are testing machines and running the ballots to make sure they are ready.

Making matters worse, Schroeder said they don’t have enough hands for the extra work.

“It’s summer, vacations, things like that…and two or three of us during the rest of the week. We’ll get it done. We’ll get it done.”

On election day, the polls are open and people can vote in-person.

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