Norwalk registrars emphasize campaign’s mistake, deny politicking

Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells talks to the press as
Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells talks to the press as Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons stands nearby Friday in City Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. – No politicking here – it’s just important that voters know where to vote, Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said.

Wells ran a press conference Friday, with embattled Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons standing quietly nearby, calling further attention to a mistake made by the campaign of John Federici, who would like to replace Doyle Lyons. This was done to prevent people going home Tuesday without voting, he said.

Republican Town Committee Chairman Pete Torrano said Wells and Doyle Lyons were going overboard for political effect.

“We’re trying to fix the error so the voters know where to go. That’s part of our job, we do that no matter who made the error. If the newspaper has published incorrect information we try to point it out to them so that we’ve got it correct. It’s really bad if people have bad information,” Wells said.

“It’s not political,” Doyle Lyons said after the press conference. “It’s our job to make sure that the voters are aware. … We can’t call everyone in the 142nd. Would it be satisfactory to just let it go and let people go to the wrong polling place?”

Wells and Deputy Democratic Registrar Bob Sodaro did a thorough job illustrating the ways the city keeps track of voter information and makes it available to campaign workers, as well as showing voters how they can look up their polling place. Everything you might need to know is shown in the videos below.

The Federici campaign mistake involved the redistricting that was completed in January 2012. Part of Rowayton was taken out of the 142nd District, and part of New Canaan was put in, he said. This means that no one votes at Brookside Elementary during a state or federal vote, he said, and that there is no longer a 142D district. The Federici campaign worker took the district subdivisions and lined them up with an old polling place list, Wells said.

Brookside Elementary School
Warning signs have been posted at Brookside Elementary School.

Wells said it’s particularly bad because there is a Republican primary Tuesday in the 142nd District, where Fred Wilms and Emily Wilson are competing for the right to face off against Democrat Andy Garfunkel for the seat now held by Larry Cafero.

“Locally it’s more of a big deal than it would be with some of the others, I guess,” Wells said.

He provided a letter from Wilms expressing concern about the snafu. It is attached below.

When the press conference was scheduled he didn’t know if there would be more developments, Wells said. No politicking, he said.

“It is very difficult for us obviously to completely separate these types of things when there is a campaign with somebody in the office and part of the job in the office is running the election. In this case, I am picking up most of that. I wrote the press release,” Wells said.

Wells, Sodaro and Doyle Lyons said they could not remember a campaign sending out the wrong information about polling places before.

Neither could former Republican Registrar Ann Artell, 92, who said she held the office for almost 25 years before retiring and handing it over to Doyle Lyons.

“She came in – I knew I was going to retire – she came in and volunteered her time freely for a couple of years to learn the procedures and the state statutes,” Artell said.

She volunteered plenty of other comments, as well.

“I have to tell you, as the previous registrar of voters here … you do not just represent the Republicans or the Democrats, you represent every voter in the city of Norwalk. They all have to be treated equally,” Artell said. “… It’s a service office, really, because you’re serving the public. That’s why you have to get along together.”

At one time, Norwalk had a Communist Party, she said. She called the Secretary of State and asked what to do, she said.

“I called the Secretary of State. She said, ‘Ann, they are a legal registered party you treat them like you do anybody else. And we did.’”

Plus, “I was very active in Ronald Reagan’s campaign. In fact, he put me on a committee in Washington, D.C . I got to know he and his wife very well. I have had a very interesting life and so has Karen.”


7 responses to “Norwalk registrars emphasize campaign’s mistake, deny politicking”

  1. Barbara Prothero

    August 11, 2014 3:14 pm… John Federici making robo campaign calls with a caller ID
    showing caller as “Dir Assit Ct” 203-555-1212???? Rather suggests an IMPORTANT AUTHORIZED CT ALERT. Oh well… Google connects that number to a TELE-MARKETER….
    Gee… that’s a relationship that does NOT make me feel SECURE!

  2. Don’t Panic

    Robo calls that falsify the incoming number may be illegal.

  3. M Joseph

    Why is it that the Democratic members of the city are so supportive and outspoken about the Republican Registrar of Voters? If the other party is so helpful to her, I tend to think she has something going on with them or maybe they want someone weak in that spot.

  4. Carlos Sanchez

    Give the man a break. Federici is a good Norwalker, trying to start out against an entrenched incumbent. He is trying his best and he was obviously working with data he got from Karen, so he was behind the 8 Ball to start.

  5. Don’t Panic

    Not only is Federici (through Torrano) NOT taking responsibility for this mistaken that could have had serious repercussions for his fellow party members Wilms and Wilson, but now somebody wants to blame LYONS?
    That’s rich.

  6. Michael DePalma

    Sorry @M Joseph, but one of the running themes of the Federici campaign has been to say she has a contentious relationship with her Democratic counterpart. So they can’t have it both ways and now assume this reaction to their screw up is some sort of sign that they are in cahoots. I don’t know John Federici personally, but I know plenty of people who do. And every single one of them (including Karen) has told me he is a great guy. But this isn’t a race for class president. This is a race for Registrar of Voters, which requires a deep knowledge of election law, and at a minimum, the knowledge of each poll location. So for the candidate to send out 1 mailing, and to have that mailing provide incorrect Election Day information is a big deal. And for him to remain completely silent about the mistake says a lot.

  7. Don’t Panic

    Watching these videos makes me glad that our Registrars are such professionals.

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