Task force to be created to examine Election Day problems in Connecticut
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut - November 13, 2018.
One week after New Haven's Election Day debacle left hundreds of people stuck in line at least four hours to register and vote, the woman responsible for overseeing the process is speaking out in her first interview.
Finally Democratic Registrar of Voters Shannel Evans met News 8's reporter to announce the creation of a task force to examine what went wrong.
"I am trying to basically create a task force," said Evans. "I have not reached out to everyone yet."
News 8's reporter pressed Evans harder with a series of questions, starting with what she knows right now needs to be fixed before the next election. "More staffing," Evans responded. "So you acknowledge that the staffing level was not appropriate?" she was asked, to which she answered, "I wouldn't go that far. I would say the hard workers, they did what they can."
In fact, inadequate staffing was one of the top concerns we heard from would-be voters waiting in line.
When asked about what can be done to prevent a fourth consecutive Election Day mess like this year’s, Evans replied: "Getting out there and registering students ahead of time.”
“To my knowledge, in prior years, we didn’t have that problem. We will work to try and figure something out,” said WSBF Republican Registrar of Voters Dolores Knight.
WTNH News 8 reported earlier how Connecticut faced problems with Election Day voter registration.
Hundreds of would-be voters waited hours just to register and cast a ballot. "I was in line from about 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm,” said University of New Haven student Rushawn Brown who was among the crowd snaking its way around the city hall atrium. "I don't think the staffing level was appropriate to handle the crowd that was here,” Brown told the News 8 reporter.
Meanwhile, Secretary of the State Denies Merrill addressed the problems during her news conference.
"We need sufficient staffing to take care of it but that's always a close question because it's very expensive," Merrill said. New Haven had similar problems during the elections of 2016 and 2018, News 8 reported.
This is something that’s happened in New Haven the last two federal elections, but the state says the long lines and those getting turned away are partly New Haven’s fault.
“The town does not fully staff for what is admittedly an extraordinary turnout. They didn’t have enough people on the job to get people through the line, even though we gave them plenty of advice about this,” said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
That’s because the same thing happened two years ago in the 2016 presidential election and two years before that.
For most of the day, they had just a few people inputting information into the computer system and it wasn’t until when the lines were already pretty long that they added staff.
“What we’ve got to ask our Registrar of Voters to do, figure out how she gets more people in there, the computers so more people can register them,” said Mayor Toni Harp.
Election Day registration is only allowed in one location in each city and town.
Mayor Harp said that’s fine for a small town, but in a city like New Haven more options would alleviate the rush.
She says getting the state law changed is something the city will be pushing for, WSBF wrote.
In addition to long lines and not enough staffers, there were more issues in the one of Connecticut’s larger cities—they had some voting machines that broke down, and soggy ballots that were too wet to go through the machines and be counted.