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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    Norwich Republicans file two election complaints on Nov. 2 election issues

    Norwich — Two Republican Party officials have filed election complaints alleging violations of state election laws in connection with the Nov. 2 municipal election.

    Republican election moderator Daphne Slopak filed one complaint, citing several allegations of wrongdoing by city registrars on Election Day. Slopak named both Democratic Registrar Dianne Daniels and Republican Registrar Cheryl Stover, but cited only actions and statements by Daniels.

    Republican Town Committee Chairman Rob Dempsky filed a separate complaint, alleging Democratic Town Committee Chairman Derell Wilson used an electronic signature rather than original signatures when applying for more than 1,700 absentee ballot request forms he later distributed to potential voters.

    Both complaints have been assigned to investigators by the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which will determine what, if any, penalties will be required.

    In her complaint, Slopak alleged several violations, including the temporary evacuation of the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Precinct 5 polling place when a possible natural gas leak was investigated.

    “Each polling place has an emergency plan in place, and every moderator should know how to implement their emergency plan, get to a safe location and continue the voting process,” Slopak wrote. “NEVER stopping the voting process.”

    While Slopak wrote that the polling place was closed for two hours, Daniels said St. Mark’s was evacuated at 12:15 p.m., and emergency responders allowed staff and voters to reenter the building at 12:28 p.m.

    Daniels said she wrote in her response to the complaint that “no more than five people were waiting to cast their ballots and none of those people were upset by the brief delay.”

    She said moderators are trained for emergencies to secure the equipment and ballots as best as possible and get themselves, their election workers and voters to a safe area as soon as possible.

    “They were told to leave the area by police and fire,” Daniels said. “And they are going to obey a lawful order.”

    Slopak also complained that the registrars hired Daniels' daughter, Ariana Woody, to work at the Precinct 6 polling place. Woody had worked during past Norwich elections but had moved to Maryland and was no longer a registered Connecticut voter, as required by state law.

    Daniels and Stover both acknowledged that Slopak was correct on this issue. Daniels said she hired Woody as a ballot clerk and was unaware that position also had to be a Connecticut voter.

    Two additional issues Slopak cited involved the lack of Republican assistant registrars at all six polling places, including at Slopak's John B. Stanton School in Precinct 4, the city’s largest precinct.

    Slopak trained and used “the only Republican poll worker in my precinct” as the assistant registrar. But Slopak complained that Daniels refused to pay the worker at the higher assistant registrar level.

    “It is very upsetting to have knowledge of the fact that running an election without assistant registrars from each party is a violation of the law,” Slopak wrote.

    Daniels acknowledged Norwich did not have enough Republican assistant registrars. Four polling places had Republican assistant registrars, one had an unaffiliated assistant instead, and Precinct 4, Slopak’s precinct, did not have one.

    Daniels said she could not pay Slopak’s designated assistant at the higher level, because that person had logged into only one of seven mandated online state training sessions and did not attend the in-person training.

    In his complaint, RTC Chairman Dempsky wrote that DTC Chairman Wilson had used an electronic signature to apply for 1,710 absentee ballot request forms and also on an accompanying letter mailed to voters with the ballot request forms.

    “Complete the enclosed, partially pre-filled application and return it to the City Clerk’s office as soon as possible,” Wilson’s letter said.

    Dempsky wrote in his complaint that electronic signatures had been used during a February special election “which were subsequently determined to be improper by Ted Bromley, CT Director of Elections, and the SEEC.”

    Wilson said he followed the guidance provided by a staff person at the Secretary of the State’s Office when he requested the absentee ballot request forms.

    “We did nothing wrong,” Wilson said. “We expect it to be cleared quickly.”

    c.bessette@theday.com

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