Norwalk registrars say school’s professional day caused Election Day problem

Republican Registrar of Voters Karen Doyle Lyons
Republican Registrar of Voters Karen Doyle Lyons

NORWALK, Conn. – There were voters who could not find parking at Fox Run Elementary School on Election Day because of a Norwalk Public Schools professional day, Norwalk voting registrars say.

Norwalk Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells said his complaint to City Clerk Donna King led to Norwalk Police visiting Fox Run and interacting with Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons. Officers told Lyons there was parking available, that people just had to drive around and look for it, according to the police report.

Wells said teachers parking at polls use up a lot of space. “That’s a real issue and there’s several polling places that they do it. We’ve got the high schools; why do they need to do it at the polling places?” he said.

“We employ some cops on Election Day to handle traffic at some locations so we wanted to supplement those because of this temporary real problem at Fox Run that we heard about,” Wells said, explaining the outreach to police.

Lyons said she was at the St. Mary’s poll and heard there was trouble at Fox Run so she went there to see what she could do.

The police report says Lyons told police that voters were driving in circles and eventually leaving because they could not find parking. She asked that the officer direct traffic, but walked away several times, asking voters if they could assist with traffic, the report states.

Principal James Martinez informed them both that the teachers would be leaving within the hour, the report states.

Lyons said Thursday that the investigation into Election Day irregularities that “might” have happened continues. That includes the possibility of people violating the 75-foot rule about approaching the polls, she said.

An opinion is being sought from Corporation Counsel about the state statutes, she said.

“We’re going to get some more information on that because the law is kind of convoluted so we want to make sure of what we are doing,” she said. “Not sure, might be only one or two (people) and that’s the problem. We’re still looking. We would have to get some kind of ruling.”


6 responses to “Norwalk registrars say school’s professional day caused Election Day problem”

  1. John Hamlin

    All these concerns about making voting more accessible and legislating to expand opportunities to vote. But we can’t even arrange for polling places with adequate parking!!

  2. Ergo

    I was there on election day. The teacher thing ended at 11 a.m. There was plenty of parking right out front, just pull up to the curb and park. In my unprofessional opinion, no one was turned away because of parking.

    That said, I suggest in future years they hold professional development days at schools that don’t have voting. That way the voters, and teachers don’t have to be concerned about parking.

  3. Hello I Must Be Going

    Ergo – Most commuters have to be at their jobs by 7, 8, or 9 a.m., and need to cast their votes as early as possible on Election Day. For many of them, it is not feasible to vote midday or even early evening. That’s why polling locations are busy in the early morning hours, and very quiet at 11 a.m.

    Perhaps you didn’t see anyone “turned away” from the polls, but I guarantee you that at least some of these potential voters drove off in disgust when they couldn’t find a place to park. That’s why scheduling a professional development session to coincide with the morning rush hour is a bad idea.

    And considering the fact that working folks are the ones bearing the brunt of our growing state and municipal tax burden (which includes footing the bill for such professional development sessions), I would argue that the least Norwalk can do is offer these citizens a convenient polling location without creating a city-sponsored parking nightmare.

  4. Ergo

    The teacher development started around 9. I was standing out front all day. People pulled right up to the curb to get out and vote. Easy peasy. No one looked disgusted to me. The only person that was upset was the one lady that worked for the Registrar of Voters who kept popping out every few minutes saying she was going to call the police. There was also parking in the turn around spot.

    And it wasn’t a parking nightmare. Parking was busy, but not full to the brim.

  5. Hello I Must Be Going

    If it was as “easy peasy” as you claim, why do BOTH registrars say that there was a problem??

  6. EveT

    This has happened at other polling places in past years (that I know of, Tracey School and Wolfpit School). I’m glad someone is finally reporting it.

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