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Norwalk Democratic registrars: Perone, others, had been in wrong districts for decades

Norwalk Assistant Democratic Registrar Bob Sodaro points to a map location of Chris Perone’s house, where he said the Norwalk voting district line has been ambiguous for 40 years.

NORWALK, Conn. – Hundreds of Norwalk voters have been voting in the wrong districts for years, Norwalk’s Democratic registrars say.

That includes state Rep. Chris Perone (D-Norwalk 137), who cast a vote Thursday at Kendall Elementary School in the Democratic Town Committee election, prompting Common Councilman David Watts to say that Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells had moved the district lines so Perone could change the political dynamic in District A.

Watts has formed an exploratory committee as he considers a state Representative run, possibly challenging his fellow Democrat in a primary election.

Perone is one of about 700 voters who were told last year that they had been registered in the wrong municipal district, Wells and Assistant Democratic Registrar Bob Sodaro said. That was discovered by a painstaking process undertaken as part of the legislature’s city-wide redistricting in 2012, they said.

Wells told the story in an email:

“In connection with the city-wide redistricting for the state representative district lines in 2012, we went to considerable effort to get correct street addresses for each parcel of real estate on the city assessor’s maps, and to assign those parcels to correct census tracts and blocks. The state map is drawn by the legislature based on census blocks and knowing which addresses are in which blocks allowed us to assign houses to the correct state legislative districts.

“This is no simple task in Norwalk as many street numbers are out of numerical order (as my house is) and others do not strictly follow the normal pattern of odd numbered houses being on one side of the street and even numbers on the other side (50 Aiken St., for example). In connection with this effort we discovered that several hundred addresses had been assigned to the wrong city council districts when the current council districts were established about 40 years ago. We now have computers, GPS, and Google Maps, none of which were available then, so it is hardly shocking that we found some things that needed to be corrected.

“We corrected the council district assignments for these several hundred homes and sent letters to all the registered voters at those addresses, about 700 in all, to notify them of the change. This was done in time for the primary last summer, and again for the general election last November. No council district lines were changed in any way. We simply corrected the district assignments for some addresses based on better information about where the property was located. This process can be complicated because the council district lines are, in many cases, based on taxing district lines and those lines do not follow the streets, but rather cut across the middle of parcels and, in deed, go through houses and apartment buildings in some cases.

 “As to Chris Perone’s house, it has always been located in District A, but it was incorrectly assigned to District D in the past. His house, at 8 East Rocks Road, is south of Glendenning Street, which is the dividing line between districts D and A, with District D on the north and District A to the south. The First Taxing District line runs along the southerly boundary of his property, and so his house is in District A, but not in the First Taxing District, placing it in District A4, as are many houses on the southerly side of Glendenning Street.

“There was an ambiguity as to the correct council district for the vacant parcel across the street from 8 East Rocks Road due to the fact that the council districts, as described in the city charter, assume that Glendenning Street and the First Taxing District line to east of East Rocks Road meet to form a continuous line, but they do not meet on the map. This was resolved last spring in consultation with Norwalk’s Corporation Counsel, and that vacant parcel was assigned to District A4 as well.”

All very complicated.  Sodaro tells his story in the video below, with the benefit of illustrative aids. Properties that have been identified as being in the wrong district are highlighted in yellow.

Comments

3 responses to “Norwalk Democratic registrars: Perone, others, had been in wrong districts for decades”

  1. dlauricella

    Very important for the public to know! Thank you for the video.
    Please note: While Bob Sodaro was speaking about the 2012 redistricting project, it is important to know that this was conducted and approved by BOTH the democratic (Stuart Wells) and republican (Karen Lyons) Registrars. Thank you!

    Details and facts still do count and all of us need to give credit to those details without rancor and ugliness.

  2. Bruce Kimmel

    These issues came before the Common Council. Most Council members who served between 2011-13 heard presentations, saw the maps, and received information regarding these issues. Problems such as those described above were not limited to the East Rocks/Glendenning area. Not sure why anyone was surprised by the changes. The registrars did a good job dealing with an issue complicated considerably by our taxing districts and haphazard addresses.

  3. EveT

    Wasn’t David Watts on the Common Council at the time when these presentations were made? He should know (a) that this process of corrections and notifications in 2013 took place, and (b) that it is not up to the Registrar of Voters to move district lines, as he publicly accused Wells and Perone of conspiring to do.

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