Election Day Registration encountered few problems

Nearly 3,000 people participated in Election Day Registration during the Nov. 4 municipal elections, with New London having the sixth-highest number of participants - 58.

Bill Giesing, New London's Democratic registrar of voters, said there were no major problems but that he is "worried" about the upcoming gubernatorial election.

"There are a couple of things we're trying to change, (such as) eliminating the process of calling another town and seeing if the person voted (in another town)," Giesing said. "We thought that was a bigger delay, and we didn't find any evidence of people doing it more than once."

Election Day Registration legislation was enacted in 2012 and was used for the first time last Nov. 4. New Haven had the highest EDR participation at 202, while Clinton, East Granby, Eastford, Kent, Norfolk and Scotland had zero participation. Groton had the second-highest participation in southeastern Connecticut at 29, while Essex and Lyme had the least, just one.

"The data speaks for itself," Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said in a press release Thursday. "Election Day Registration is both popular and reliable, and my office did not receive any reports or complaints of concern as this law was implemented."

Jessica Kingman, office assistant to the registrars in Groton town, said the process went smoothly and that the flow of same-day voters was steady.

She said it took roughly 10 minutes to process someone who was registering and voting on Election Day. But if the person had just moved to Groton and was previously registered in another town, she did have to make a call to the other town to make sure the person hadn't voted.

"If we had to confirm previous voting, that could take a bit longer," Kingman said. "But we had a system set up for that so people weren't stuck waiting for hours."

Giesing said checking on whether someone had already voted in another town caused the registration line to back up by about three people at times. That's a minor delay, he said.

"I'm worried about the next one, the race for the governor next November," Giesing said. "We'll have to see how that one goes."

He said he was going to look into whether calling other towns could be eliminated because it took up time and there were no discoveries of anyone who had already voted in another town.

Giesing said he would also manage the process a little differently. Instead of having people register to vote and fill out a ballot envelope in the office of the registrar, he would have the voter just fill out the registration form in the office and then go to the lobby, where there are privacy booths, to fill out the envelope and ballot. This might cut down on congestion, he said.

Giesing also said the process was a bit costly. The city had to hire four more people than it normally would during a municipal election. Two helped people register to vote in the Registrar of Voters office in City Hall and two monitored people casting their ballots in the lobby.

Kingman said she was the EDR staff member for Groton, and that the process was fast.

"I'd be happy to do it again," she said.

j.somers@theday.com

By the numbers

Election Day Registration counts for southeastern Connecticut, according to the Secretary of the State:

New London 58

Groton 29

Stonington 25

Norwich 23

Canterbury 13

Ledyard 12

Montville 12

North Stonington 12

Sprague 12

Waterford 9

Salem 8

Old Saybrook 5

Old Lyme 4

Preston 3

Essex 1

Lyme 1

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