Norwich candidate's consultant criticized by city registrars of voters

Norwich - The city's two registrars of voters have filed a complaint with the state Elections Enforcement Commission against the consultant hired by Alderwoman and Democratic mayoral candidate Deberey Hinchey alleging voter coercion and attempted intimidation of election officials.

Republican Registrar Dianne Slopak and Democratic Registrar Dianne Daniels filed the complaint Sept. 16 against Manchester state Rep. Geoff Luxenberg, owner of the Vinci Group, a campaign consulting firm hired by Hinchey for her mayoral campaign.

The complaint stems from actions by Luxenberg on Sept. 9, the day before the Democratic mayoral primary, when Hinchey defeated Alderman Charles Jaskiewicz.

The registrars claim that Luxenberg visited the home of a woman who was ill and demanded the registrars bring her an emergency ballot so she could vote in the primary. Registrars later reached the woman, who complained that she was ill and wasn't supposed to get out of bed and climb up and down stairs to answer the door. She told Daniels that Luxenberg had been to the home three times, and she no longer wanted an emergency absentee ballot for the primary.

The complaint alleged that Luxenberg "displayed a negative and combative nature, repeatedly mentioning the possibility of lawsuits and complaints to the Elections Enforcement division as a method of getting his way," Daniels wrote in the complaint.

Slopak complained that Luxenberg also used "a combative tone of voice" when demanding that a registrar go to a second resident's home to provide an absentee ballot without first calling the woman to set up a convenient time. She said Luxenberg said he would "see us in court" if registrars did not comply. The woman did fill out an absentee ballot on Sept. 10.

Hinchey called the complaints politically motivated, being released to the press two weeks before the election. She said she has confidence in the professional firm she has hired for her campaign.

"There is no basis for it," Hinchey said. "He's not done anything wrong. He's not broken any laws. It sounds a little bit like political stuff."

Daniels supported Jaskiewicz in the primary and contributed $50 to his primary run, campaign finance records show.

"It's completely bogus," Luxenberg said. "It is an untrue complaint that is strategically popping up two weeks before one of the most hotly contested races in the state. The Norwich registrars should be focusing on registering voters and not baseless political attacks."

Daniels and Slopak both emphatically denied any political motivation for the complaint. Daniels said election integrity is her prime concern, and she objected to Luxenberg repeatedly visiting the home of a sick woman who was supposed to be undisturbed.

"If he's intimidating voters the way he is intimidating us," Daniels said, "that's our concern."

Slopak said there have been no incidents involving Luxenberg since Sept. 9, and the registrars' office has not received any complaints from voters, other than the one woman's request on Sept. 9 that Luxenberg not visit her home again that day.

"It is absolutely not politically motivated," Slopak said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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