A group of Democratic Town Committee members and volunteers is phoning and canvassing a list of more than 10,000 “inactive” voters recently updated by the city’s Registrars of Voters to bring residents who still reside in the city back to the active voter rolls. Current voter registration totals 23,927.
In May Registrars completed their annual canvass by mail to update the voter list. The canvass brought the inactive list to more than 10,000 by removing 1,713 more individuals who were eligible to vote in last year’s gubernatorial election. Voter enrollment for the last Presidential election in 2012 totaled 32,898 and the inactive list was 2,323. A re-canvass in early 2013 before the last municipal election dramatically increased the inactive list and 7,687 voters or 23% of voters became inactive
The Right to Vote initiative began in June and volunteers have contacted and confirmed more than 200 residents still living in the city who can now get back on the active list. Organizers say that approximately half of the inactive list with phone numbers has been contacted. The phoning and canvassing will continue until all names have been reached on the list.
“We’re on a pace to restore more than 500 residents to the active list based on results so far,” says DTC member Don DeFronzo, the former Mayor and State Senator. “Ballot access is important for all residents of all affiliations whether or not they have changed addresses or somehow missed receiving the mailed communication from the registrars. We recognize the limited resources of election officials but the current canvassing method of just a post card or letter is inadvertently dropping citizens from the active rolls. Administrative actions resulting in the wholesale removal of voters should not be occurring anywhere in 2015 and in the run up to the 2016 Presidential election. Unfortunately they exist and reliance solely on the current mail canvass represents an institutionalized form of voter disenfranchisement. More needs to be done to ensure the accuracy of the voter list and that every voter’s franchise right to vote is protected in New Britain.”
DeFronzo said Democratic Registrar of Voters Juan Verdu is cooperating with the project volunteers.
Between January and April 30th Registrars of Voters in all towns are required to conduct an “annual house-to-house canvass” of voters. In New Britain, only mailings or the change of address notifications are generally used to confirm voters and establish a new inactive list each year. Door-to-door canvassing or telephoning are generally not used. Election officials cite current staffing levels and budgets as reasons the canvassing methodology is limited.
Democratic Town Chairman John McNamara said existing official canvassing to remove voters from the active list is inadequate to ensure maximum voter participation. “The volunteer Right To Vote project is identifying hundreds of voters who should still be on the active voter list and are not. It’s disturbing to see the precipitous drop in voter enrollment since President Obama’s re-election. We will be calling for enhanced efforts to maintain voter participation including cross-checking inactive names with property tax lists at City Hall, the state DMV and other agencies.”
If any New Britain voter has recently moved within the city, or has not responded to the Registrar’s mail canvass, he or she should contact the Registrar’s Office at 860-826-3310 to check on their voting status.
For more information on the “Right To Vote” initiative call 860-505-8901 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org