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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    Federal money sent to Connecticut towns for absentee ballot processing

    Towns across the state now have thousands of additional dollars at their disposal to handle the cost of expanded absentee ballot access.

    An announcement from the Secretary of the State’s office in August said the state received a $1 million federal grant, which was then sent to Connecticut’s 169 towns to help assist with absentee ballots in the November election.

    “The federally funded Absentee Ballot Support Grant will be given to towns so town clerks will have the resources needed to process, mail, and count what is expected to be a high number of absentee ballots returned in 2022,” according to the Secretary of the State’s office.

    The amount that each town received is proportional to an average of the number of absentee ballots received in 2018 and 2020. No town received less than $1,000.

    In Southeastern Connecticut, Groton received the most at $10,239, followed by East Lyme at $7,889, Norwich at $7,775, Stonington at $7,665, Waterford at $7,026, New London at $5,189, Ledyard at $4,477, Montville at $4,297, Old Lyme at $3,965, and Preston, Bozrah, Lyme and Salem all at or near $1,000.

    Montville Town Clerk Katie Haring said municipal clerks were notified of the funding on Aug. 11 and “the funds I believe hit our town account very early the next week.”

    “I plan to use the funds in Montville to cover the increased postage cost of mailing ballots, increased number of printed absentee ballots needed, and I also anticipate the need for extra part time office help in the month leading up to the election as well as the need for more absentee ballot counters, pending how many ballots I issue this election season,” Haring wrote in an email.

    Other town clerks told The Day they would be using the money similarly.

    “They gave us that money. You don’t have to apply, you don’t have to say what you’re doing it for, as long as it’s going toward helping with the process of absentee ballots,” Waterford Town Clerk David Campo said. “I’ll probably spend most of mine on postage and the ballots themselves. In the end it probably won’t be enough, but we’ve also budgeted money toward this, so it should be close. It was great that they sent that money out.”

    The Secretary of the State’s office also issued a news release Wednesday, that, among other things, reminded voters that no-excuse absentee voting is effectively still in place for the 2022 election, as one of the valid reasons people can give for voting absentee is “the continued presence of a sickness such as the COVID-19 virus.”

    The legislature passed a bill during the 2022 session that redefines “sickness” in general rather than a personal "illness" as an appropriate excuse for voting by absentee ballot.

    The General Assembly passed other legislation last session expanding reasons for absentee voting to caretakers of ill or disabled people and out-of-town commuters.

    s.spinella@theday.com

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