NORWALK, Conn. — About 13,500 absentee ballots were sent to Norwalk voters Friday, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid said.
“We did it,” he said. “Now, is there a couple glips or glops? Well, in every election… we get things that happen.”
About 1,000 ballots went out without an indication that they can be mailed back postage free, he said. And Norwalk resident Paul Cantor said the ballots don’t say that fear of COVID-19 is an acceptable reason not to go to the polls.
McQuaid said any ballot that is dropped in a mailbox will be delivered to the Town Clerk’s Office, whether or not it has a stamp on it. There are three drop boxes in Norwalk, and people are already using them – about 1,500 ballots have already been received by City Hall, where the box was emptied five or six times Monday, he said.
To get a ballot, you had to fill out one of the ballot applications that were mailed to every Norwalk voter. COVID-19 was listed as an acceptable reason on the application.
Cantor said Tuesday:
“The problem is the ballot that I (and I assume others) received requires you to sign a statement that begins:
“‘I hereby state under the penalties of false statement in absentee balloting …. That I expect to be unable to appear at my polling place for one or more of the following reasons’ and FEAR OF CONTRACTING THE VIRUS IS NOT GIVEN AS ONE OF THOSE REASONS.
“So that may lead to many who fear showing up at their polling place not voting.”
As of Sept. 28, the Town Clerk’s Office had received 11,065 applications, according to the City’s website.
McQuaid said Monday that the actual ballots arrived Tuesday.
“So, in a matter of five days, the staff worked day and night to get out almost 13,500 ballots,” he said.
That’s an unprecedented number of absentee ballots: for instance, in November, 2016, McQuaid said 3,000 absentee ballots had gone out.
“These are humans doing this, we’re not using machines and everything,” he 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.”
He said three ballots had the wrong address on them, as of Monday.
“Nothing that can’t be fixed.” McQuaid said. “We’re not saying we don’t have problems; I’m just saying that we are prepared in better shape, right today than we ever expected to be.”
A few names might be spelled wrong but, “Overall, I think we do a fantastic job.”
The 1,000 ballots without the postage paid marking were because “we were waiting for supplies from the state,” and the decision was made to make sure voters got their ballots, he said. “…But it’s already been cleared by the state and by the Postmaster here in the city, they can just send them into us and the postage is covered.”
There were ballots in the drop box with stamps on them, he said.
“We’ve already made sure that the postage will be paid on them,” McQuaid said. “The postmaster is aware of it, the postmaster supervisor in their office is aware of it, and we’re aware of it.”
He believes that all Norwalk ballots will be delivered as of today, Tuesday, Oct. 6, he said. Again, you can take your ballot to a drop box, at:
- City Hall, located at 125 East Ave.
- Norwalk Police headquarters, located at 1 Monroe St.
- The Norwalk Public Library, located a 1 Belden Ave.
“Drop boxes are monitored by cameras and the contents inside are picked up at least once a day by the Town Clerk,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said in a Facebook post.
But if you want to go to the polls on Nov. 3, they’ll be very safe, McQuaid said, throwing kudos to former Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons, Republican Registrar Brian Smith, Democratic Registrar Stuart Wells and Deputy Democratic Registrar Ron Banks. “I really think they have done an incredible job.”
“I know there will be a lot of armchair quarterbacks, that probably have a better way to build the mousetrap. But I don’t think there’s any problem that arises that we can’t handle,” McQuaid said. “…We’ve given ourselves enough time, of almost four weeks before the election, so if somebody did have a problem with their ballot, or there was an issue with something that we’ll be able to take care of it.”
Information added at 11:30a.m.