Secretary Merrill Makes Public Aware of Law Regarding Challenges to Voters
Challenges are made under oath, and only when there is reason to believe the voter is not qualified
HARTFORD - Due to news articles suggesting that challenges to voters are expected across the state in Tuesday's general election and numerous questions from voters throughout the state, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is making the public aware of the law surrounding voter challenges in Connecticut.
"In Connecticut, we protect voting rights," said Merrill. "Although we take great pains to ensure that only eligible voters are allowed to vote, we are also careful to avoid potential voter intimidation. Challenges to the eligibility of voters should not be made lightly - they are made under oath and only when there is reason to believe they have merit, for good reason. Frivolous challenges are likely to slow down the voting process, or even cause some eligible voters to stay away. Here in Connecticut, we can all agree that eligible voters should have the right to vote unimpeded."
Challenges to voters must not be indiscriminate and are made under oath. Although relatively rare in Connecticut, a person who challenges a voter's eligibility to vote must know, suspect, or reasonably believe that the voter is not who they say they are, does not live where they say they live, or is disenfranchised, under penalty of false statement. The moderator then decides on the right of the challenged person to vote. If the moderator decides against a challenged voter, that voter has the right to both a challenged ballot and a provisional ballot.
All moderators now receive comprehensive training on their roles and responsibilities every two years, rather than every four years, under a statutory change proposed by Secretary Merrill and approved by the legislature in 2011. Moderators in Connecticut are in control of their polling places. If a moderator believes that a person in the moderator's polling place is being disruptive or otherwise interfering with the ability of citizens to cast their ballots, that moderator has the authority to remove that person from the polling place and bar their reentry.
Since 2012, the Office of the Secretary of the State has partnered with the Connecticut Bar Association to provide nonpartisan, volunteer legal assistance to ensure that the rights of Connecticut voters are protected. These attorneys, as designees of the Secretary of the State, are allowed access to polling places for the purpose of ensuring compliance with state and federal law.
The Office of the Secretary of the State partners with the State Election Enforcement Commission (SEEC) to jointly run an Election Day hotline that allows voters to report any problems at polling places or any violations of state or federal law. Voters should call 866-733-2463 (866-SEEC-INFO) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to report any problems that they observe or encounter. Both the Office of the Secretary and SEEC work closely with the FBI and the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut to ensure that voters' rights are protected under federal law.