Cantor alleges ‘serious problem that should have been addressed yesterday’

Paul Cantor says this is the absentee ballot he received this week. His wife also got an envelope like this. (Paul Cantor)

The 2020 election is scheduled for Nov. 3. Many Norwalkers are voting by absentee ballot.

2,386 absentee ballots processed in Norwalk

NORWALK, Conn. – A photo provided Wednesday by Norwalk resident Paul Cantor proves his contention that COVID-19 is not listed as a possible reason to vote via absentee ballot, on the ballot he received.

It also did not include a postage paid notification, making it one of the approximately 1,000 pre-COVID envelopes that Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said were used, of the nearly 14,000 ballots that went out.

“The legislature, in the July special session, mandated that the COVID-19 excuse be added to the inner envelopes, and that was communicated to the town clerks. Only the new inner envelopes should be used,” Gabe Rosenberg, Communications Director for Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said in a Wednesday email.

The demand for absentee ballots is unprecedented: Rosenberg’s Wednesday stats show 14,419 requests have been processed in Norwalk.

“These are humans doing this, we’re not using machines and everything,” McQuaid said Monday. “So, you know, you do have errors over the years. I’m not saying these are things that (don’t) happen here. You know, somebody may get a wrong ballot, an address may be different, somebody may get a ballot in one envelope, a spouse may get in different envelopes, they go to the same place.”

The 1,000 ballots with old envelopes went out because “we were waiting for supplies from the state,” and the decision was made to make sure voters got their ballots, he said.

“The new materials were received by Norwalk on 9/11/20,” Rosenberg said. “Towns were instructed to either use the new outer envelopes or put postage on the old envelopes (the instruction is pasted below). (It is worth noting that the post office will deliver election mail even if it does not have the proper postage).”

Voters must sign their envelopes to make their ballots legal. By signing, you swear that you are using the absentee ballot for one of the reasons given.

Cantor’s ballot does not list COVID-19 as a potential reason.

Given the pandemic “and the fact the President is challenging absentee balloting this is a serious problem that should have been addressed yesterday,” Cantor wrote. “What a time we are living in.  I am more than a little upset and think others should be as well. We need clarity and straightforwardness more than even in these fraught times.”

The application to get an absentee ballot, which also needed to be signed, listed COVID-19 as a reason.

“I am standing by ballots need to get out, the state informed us if envelopes are not covid they can write covid on it and it will be fine,” McQuaid said Wednesday. “When the voter sent in their absentee application from the state they needed to give reason for voting absentee and sign application. Did Mr. Cantor do this? If so we can match his application to his envelope.”

More than 15 percent of the ballots have come back and been processed, “so we are getting word out and will continue to move forward,” McQuaid said.

“Intent to vote is not voter fraud,” McQuaid said. “Intent to commit fraud is fraud.”

“Of course, a voter should not be penalized if they were given the wrong materials,” Rosenberg said.

The state’s latest figures show

  • 14,419 absentee ballot requests have been received and processed in Norwalk
  • 1,499 registered Norwalk Democrats have returned filled out ballots
  • 616 unaffiliated Norwalk voters have returned filled out ballots
  • 223 registered Norwalk Republicans have returned filled out ballots
  • 48 Norwalkers registered in other parties have returned filled out ballots



So a total 2,386 Norwalk absentee ballots have been processed.

Statewide, 536,435 absentee ballots have been requested and process, and 82,627 filled out ballots have been returned.

An absentee ballot received by another Norwalk citizen.


Stuart Wells October 8, 2020 at 7:32 am

The Town Clerk sends out absentee ballot sets and receives and records the returned ballots. The ballots are turned over to the Registrars of Voters for counting.
There are only a few reasons an absentee ballot must be rejected and not counted. The chief one is that the voter did not sign the inner envelope. The legislature did NOT add “envelope does not say COVID” as a new reason for rejecting an absentee ballot; therefore returning the ballot in an old inner envelope will not invalidate it.
Stuart Wells, Registrar of Voters

John ONeill October 8, 2020 at 9:08 am

Strange times bring strange bedfellows. Paul Cantor is right on. While I sympathize with Rich Mcquaid I question why this wasn’t transparent from the beginning. Why not tell the public the secretary of state made promises that are impossible to adhere to? In true govt bureaucratic fashion let’s wait until the house is on fire before we get the hoses out. If I understand his “fix” let’s just write today’s excuse and mail in ballot. Forget about the postage, it may or may not get delivered, but we can blame that on another bureaucratic mess.
I understand everyone is doing their best, but with questions about integrity surrounding this freaking election, I would hope our people would be TRANSPARENT about mistakes BEFORE they are pointed out by voters paying attention. Democrat Denise Merrill is hanging local officials like Rich Mcquaid out to dry. If I was Rich I would point blame where it belongs..Of course. he’d have to get permission from Bob Duff to do that.
This is going to get ugly and at least in CT the political machine that is the Democrats is not helping. Is it about power or is it about doing the right thing?
Speaking of power has anyone seen their electric bill lately? I’d ask our elected officials but they haven’t been to any Energy committee meetings this year.
In summary,we will see more criticisms of Rich Mcquaid’s office before this election is complete. If you want to be 100% sure your vote is counted go to the polls. I’ve voted 30 times in Norwalk and have NEVER waited more than 3 minutes to vote. I waited 5 minutes on line at Stop & Shop to buy excedrin yesterday as a comparison. I’m sending it to Mcquaid…he’s going to need it.

Robert J Sodaro October 8, 2020 at 2:27 pm

The applications sent out from the Secretary of the State’s office had a checkbox on them indicating that the individual requesting the ballot because of COVID-19. Such a question is unnecessary on the ballot or the inner envelope is not only unnecessary but superfluous as the SotS has indicated that anyone who wants an absentee/mail-in ballot can request, and receive one. Not quite sure what Mr. Cantor’s problem is.

Jason October 8, 2020 at 4:22 pm

Thank you, Mr. Wells. I feel like our city is in fine shape to handle this election. Now everyone, PLEASE VOTE!!!

Ron Morris October 8, 2020 at 10:18 pm

It seems to me that the town clerk has a lackadaisical attitude about this. In the corporate world if you had the attitude “So, you know, you do have errors over the years.” you would be gone. I do realize that this is more work than they ever had but its your job so you need to overcome and adapt. Its time that someone runs against Mcquaid

Bryan Meek October 9, 2020 at 12:01 am

Stopped reading after the two words Paul Cantor. The same guy who bought his house across the street from the golf course who has hated it going on 4 decades now. The same guy who was silent when 10 acres of land were clear cut for those nice new homes over there. No credibility whatsoever.

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