Hi Friends,

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this summer I signed a new law that gives all registered voters in Connecticut the ability to vote during the November 3, 2020 General Election using an absentee ballot. While it is important to note that polls will still be open like normal from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Election Day and you can vote in-person if you want, all registered voters also have the option this year of voting by absentee ballot.

If you want to vote by absentee ballot in Connecticut, this is what you need to do:

  1. Obtain an absentee ballot application: The Secretary of the State has mailed absentee ballot applications to every active, registered voter in the state. If you haven’t received one yet, it should arrive in the mail within the next several days. You can also download the application online here. It is important to note that this is not a ballot – it is just an application that you need to fill out to request a ballot.
  2. Fill out the application: When you fill out the application, state law requires you to check a box indicating the reason why you need to vote using an absentee ballot. This year, all voters have the option of selecting “COVID-19” as a reason, in addition to the six existing reasons.
  3. Send the application to your Town Clerk: Once filled out, you must send the application to the Town Clerk where you are registered to vote. You can drop it in one of the secure ballot boxes that have been installed outside of every Town Hall, send it in the mail, or hand deliver it at your Town Clerk’s office.
  4. Once the application is processed, an absentee ballot will be mailed to the voter starting on October 2: Absentee ballots will be mailed to voters who requested one beginning October 2, 2020. By law, absentee ballots cannot be mailed prior to October 2.
  5. Complete your absentee ballot: When filling out your absentee ballot, make sure to follow all of the instructions as required, otherwise your vote may not be processed. Remember to sign the inner envelope, seal only your ballot inside of the inner envelope (one ballot per envelope), and seal the inner envelope inside of the outer envelope.
  6. Send your completed absentee ballot to your Town Clerk: Similar to how you returned your application, you must send your completed ballot to the Town Clerk where you are registered to vote. You can drop it in one of the secure ballot boxes that have been installed outside of every Town Hall, send it in the mail, or hand deliver it at your Town Clerk’s office.
  7. All ballots must be received by the close of polls at 8:00 P.M. on November 3: To ensure that the Town Clerk receives your absentee ballot in time and it doesn’t get held up due to delays in mail delivery, it is strongly recommended that you return your ballot by using the secure drop boxes that have been installed outside of your local Town Hall.

Additional Resources

For Connecticut’s voter information center, visit myvote.ct.gov.

Stay safe,
Ned

 

08/25/2020

Process and Timelines for November General Election

Secretary Merrill Outlines Process and Timelines for November General Election

Every Connecticut voter will have the opportunity to safely and securely cast their ballot by the method of their choosing and make their voice heard

HARTFORD – Connecticut’s Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today outlined the process and timeline for the November general election in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every Connecticut voter must and will have the opportunity to safely and securely cast their ballots, by the method of their choosing, and make their voice heard,” said Secretary Merrill. “My staff, and our partners at the local level, the hard-working registrars of voters and town clerks in each of Connecticut’s 169 towns, are busy ensuring the most important goal of every election – that every Connecticut voter who wants to participate has the opportunity to easily register and conveniently cast their ballot, and that every valid vote cast is a vote counted. Our efforts to expand absentee balloting, to deliver secure drop boxes to every town, to protect the health and safety of voters and poll workers in polling places, and to protect the cybersecurity of our election infrastructure from the foreign actors attempting to compromise it, are all designed to provide an election that is safe, secure, and accessible for every voter in Connecticut.”

The Office of the Connecticut Secretary of the State will be sending out applications for absentee ballots to all eligible (active, registered) voters on a rolling basis between Tuesday September 8th and Friday September 11th. Voters can check their registration status at myvote.ct.gov/lookupAll voters are eligible to vote by absentee ballot for the 2020 election by checking the COVID-19 excuse on the application. Although absentee ballot applications will be mailed to every eligible voter, they are also available in English and Spanish at myvote.ct.gov/absentee.

“Mailing absentee ballot applications to all eligible voters makes it easier for every voter to exercise their right to vote without jeopardizing their health, if they choose to vote by absentee ballot,” said Secretary Merrill. “By including postage paid envelopes with the applications, and with the absentee ballots, we are using federal funds to make sure everyone who chooses to can vote by absentee ballot with no cost to the voters or to their towns. We are committed to using federal CARES Act funds to make sure that the town clerks have the resources they need to process and fulfill what will certainly be an unprecedented number of absentee ballots in November.”

Given the well-publicized problems with the United States Postal Service, Secretary Merrill is encouraging voters to use the secure ballot drop boxes to return their absentee ballot applications and the ballot themselves, in order to be sure that all critical mailings are received in a timely fashion. The USPS has made clear that they are not a reliable method for delivering election mail; the ballot drop boxes are and should be used to deliver the absentee ballot applications and the absentee ballots themselves back to the towns.

Additionally, several legislative delegations have requested more secure ballot drop boxes for their towns. To that end, we have used federal CARES Act funding to order 50 additional secure ballot drop boxes to be distributed to the towns that need them and to be installed in secure locations convenient to voters aside from town halls.

“The secure ballot drop boxes have been a fantastic addition to Connecticut’s democratic process by making it easier for voters to vote,” said Secretary Merrill. “They are even more critical because the United States Postal Service has made it clear that they are either unable or unwilling to help voters cast their ballots. I encourage all voters to not rely on the post office and to deliver their absentee ballot applications and their absentee ballots directly to the ballot drop box in their towns.

“I’m thrilled to be able to provide additional secure ballot drop boxes to the towns that want them,” Merrill continued. “Making it more convenient for voters to cast their ballots in a safe and healthy way is our most important mission as election officials.”

Although applications will be mailed to voters after Labor Day, voters should be aware that the absentee ballots themselves cannot be distributed prior to October 2nd, by Connecticut law. The small amount of time between October 2nd and November 3rd makes it imperative that voters return their applications and their ballots as soon as possible. Returning the applications and the ballots early will make it easier for the town clerks to do the work that is necessary to process all of the applications and the ballots. Connecticut law only allows the counting of ballots that have arrived by the close of polls, 8:00pm on Election Day November 3rd, so returning ballots early and not relying on the post office are the best way for voters to ensure that their votes are counted and their voices heard.

“If you choose to vote by absentee ballot, please return your application as soon as you can to relieve the burden on the local election officials who process them,” said Secretary Merrill. “By law, the ballots themselves cannot be mailed out before October 2nd, so please return them as soon as possible as well, as they must be received by 8:00pm on Election Day. And use the secure ballot drop boxes in your town to ensure that they are received on time!”

More information can be found at myvote.ct.gov.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 28, 2020

Congressman Jim Himes Endorses

MikE Burke and Sara Parent as candidates for

Darien’s Board of Education.

Darien Board of Education candidates Mike Burke and Sara Parent were honored to receive the endorsement of US Representative Jim Himes, who represents Connecticut’s 4th Congressional district.

“I hope that you will join me in supporting Mike Burke and Sara Parent for the Darien Board of Education,” Congressman Himes said. “Mike knows how to open our schools safely, and he knows how to do what we need to do in the fiscally intelligent way that we like to do things in Darien.”

Himes continued, “Sara has led the CDSP (Council of Darien School Parents) for years. She, too, knows what Darien education is all about, how we can reopen schools in such a way that our kids get the education that we want them to get, but that they are also, of course, healthy and safe. Join me on November 3rd to support Mike Burke and Sara Parent.”

Of the endorsement, Sara Parent said “Mike and I are thrilled to have the support of Representative Himes. He cares deeply about doing what is best for the children and families of Connecticut. He represents us, and all of his constituents, with integrity and intelligence. Mike and I look forward to the opportunity to do the same for all children and families in Darien.”

 

Connecticut will hold the Dual Presidential Preference Primary on August 11, 2020. The Darien Registrars, Susan Gray and John Visi, along with the Town Clerk, Caryn Diller, have been coordinating for several months with Governor Lamont’s legal team and the Secretary of the State’s office. We are following state and federal agency guidelines to provide our voters with a safe election during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and safeguarding our CT voting database amid recurrent fears of election meddling from foreign agents.

In Person Voting:

Connecticut law mandates the opening of all poll sites for in person voting. To provide and maintain a streamlined, sanitized voting environment throughout the election day, the Registrars have submitted a Safe Poll Plan to the Connecticut Secretary of State, which includes:

•     PPE including masks, gloves, plastic shields, sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes for all poll workers and poll sites, purchased, in part, with funding from the U.S. Congress.

•     Sanitizers for voter use in poll site. 

•     New poll worker positions to assist in disinfecting poll booths and equipment, and to ensure adherence to safe social distancing at the polls. 

•     Signage alerting voters of the required 6’ social distancing at the poll site.

•     Signage alerting voters to wear masks while inside the poll site buildings.

•     Limiting of poll site occupancy to 50% of maximum building capacity.

•     Reduction of 4 voter capacity polling station booths to 2, and placement of booths at 6’ intervals.

•     Voting booths disinfected after each use, and poll site equipment and building restrooms sanitized throughout election day.

•     Stationary Plexi-glass shields with pass through openings separating voters from poll workers.

•     Voter ID shown through Plexi-glass shield. 

•     Ballots passed through opening in shield to voters.

•     Pens or pencils available for every voter, not to be re-used during election day. 

•     Voter option to bring #2 pencil or black or blue ink pen to poll site to mark ballot.

Absentee Voting:

For the August 11, 2020 Primary, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and to ensure public health and safety, exceptions are being made to absentee ballot voting availability: 

•     All eligible Democratic and Republican voters will be receiving an absentee ballot application from the Secretary of the State’s office in early July, along with a pre-paid return envelope. 

•     When the Secretary of the State’s designated mailing vendor receives the voter’s returned and completed application, an absentee ballot will be sent to voter beginning July 21.

•     Absentee ballots are to be completed and returned in the pre-paid envelope either by the US Postal Service, or placed in the designated absentee ballot mailbox at Town Hall, or brought to the Darien Town Clerk’s office.

•     All absentee ballots must be received by the Darien Town Clerk’s office by Close of Election in order to be counted.

•     Per Executive Order 7QQ, Covid-19 may be used as a valid reason for voting by absentee ballot. 

Voter Registration:

•     Please refer to the Darien Registrar of Voters website for relevant registration dates.

•     Please note that there is no Election Day Registration in CT for primaries.

Please contact our office at (203) 656-7316, with any questions or concerns.

     Susan Gray and John Visi

     Darien Registrars    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 28, 2020

The Democratic Town Committee is pleased to announce the nominations of Michael Burke and Sara Parent as candidates for Darien’s Board of Education.

David Bayne, Darien DTC Chair, said of the nominations:

The Darien DTC is proud and honored to endorse Michael Burke and Sara Parent for Darien’s Board of Education.  Michael brings a wealth of experience and a steady hand, and Sara brings her experience as a highly involved parent and a former educator to the Board of Education.  At a time when the COVID-19 crisis is testing the very foundations of how education is being delivered to our children, Michael and Sara represent the kind of thoughtful and innovative leadership that is precisely what Darien needs in order to continue providing unsurpassed educational opportunities to all of our children. Together they represent the best that Darien has to offer and our town is particularly fortunate that they have chosen to run for the Board of Education during this unprecedented time.

Michael Burke is seeking his third term on the Board of Education and Sara Parent her first. From within and without, both have been intimately involved in the Board of Education’s work; Michael as a Board member and Sara in her role with Council of Darien School Parents, of which she is currently Co-Chair. Darien’s education system is facing unprecedented challenges from simultaneous public health and economic emergencies that have stopped traditional learning in its tracks and caused unprecedented cuts to the Board of Education’s budget. Now, more than ever, independent leadership is required to guide the Board of Education through this two-fold crisis. Michael and Sara will provide that leadership.

Michael Burke has served on the Board of Education since 2014.  In addition to his general board duties, Michael is the Chair of the Board’s Policy Committee. He has also served on the Negotiations Committee which successfully reached agreement with Darien teachers during the last two negotiation cycles. Michael said of his time on the Board of Education:

I believe that our work on the Policy Committee in the near term will be even more critical as we continue to adapt our educational environment to the challenges posed by the pandemic and its aftermath. Our work on the Negotiations Committee has been especially gratifying as we were able to reach two agreements that honor the important work of our teachers and are mindful of taxpayer dollars.

 Michael is a graduate of Skidmore College and Fordham University School of Law. He is Senior Trial Counsel for the law firm of Traub Liberman Straus and Shrewsberry where he litigates matters in the federal and state courts of Connecticut and New York.  “As a litigator, I listen, assess and advocate. I think those skills have brought value to the Board over the course of the last six years.”

Michael and his wife Kathleen have two sons, Matthew and Nolan, who are rising Seniors at Darien High School.  Of his nomination, Michael said:

 Our sons have been so fortunate to have been educated in this wonderful school district. Their teachers and coaches through their years at Holmes, MMS and DHS have been enthusiastic, highly skilled and kind. This has been especially so over the last three months as teachers have adapted to our new, and hopefully temporary, E-Learning environment. If I am fortunate enough to be elected to serve another term, I will work with my fellow Board members to continue to create school environments that allow all of our learners to prosper academically and learn the value of community and kindness.

Sara Parent is well known for her advocacy for Darien’s children. She has held many leadership roles in Darien and is currently the Co-Chair of the Council of Darien School Parents and sits on the District’s Strategic Planning Committee. Sara has also been the Chair of the Holmes School PTO and Chair of the Parent-Teacher Committee at Saint Luke’s Parish School. She has served on the RTM since 2017, and is Clerk of the Public Health and Safety committee.

Sara received a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers’ College at Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Elementary Education from Middlebury College. Prior to moving to Darien in 2009, Sara taught elementary school in both Connecticut and New York City. She and her husband, Greg, have two daughters, Elizabeth and Catherine, both in the Darien Public Schools. Sara said of her nomination:

We chose to move to Darien primarily for its schools, as is true of most families in town. We have been impressed by the curriculum and the quality of the teaching throughout the district. However, the Board of Education faces significant challenges in the months and years to come. If elected, I will work hard to keep our children at the forefront of every conversation and help move the Board forward in an efficient and transparent manner.

I look forward to continuing my work in helping to ensure that Darien’s schools continue their tradition of excellence and are the best they can be for all learners. We are currently in very uncertain times. Change is inevitable and difficult decisions will have to be made. My professional background, educational expertise and established relationships with other community leaders, members of the Board of Education and District Administration will be invaluable.

Sara and Mike at BOE HQ