WALLINGFORD — Local voters now have access to two more drop boxes to submit absentee ballot applications and eventually the ballots themselves.
They were installed Tuesday outside the front door of the Wallingford Senior Center and inside Town Hall near the Town Clerk’s office door. There were two drop boxes already installed outside Town Hall.
Bill Viola, senior center executive director, said Thursday that he hasn’t heard many comments from visitors about the new drop box. Public Works consulted him about the placement, he said.
All voters can check their registration status at myvote.ct.gov/lookup.
Absentee ballot applications started arriving late last week, mailed with a postage-paid return envelope between Sept. 8 and Sept. 11 by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill's office.
Municipal clerks will process the applications and, unlike during the August primary, will mail the absentee ballots to voters instead of the state.
Absentee ballots are mailed to voters who requested them beginning 31 days before a general election, which is Oct. 3 this year.
Town Clerk Barbara Thompson said Tuesday that she expected to receive only one additional drop box. She and Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. agreed that the third drop box should be installed at the senior center.
Thompson wanted the unexpected fourth drop box to be placed outside her office door because, she said, her office has been “inundated with calls” from voters who don’t trust the mail or drop boxes and want to deliver their absentee ballots or applications to her staff directly.
She said that her staff check the drop boxes twice a day for applications, and plan to check for ballots more often.
“They should feel very secure about it,” she said.
She added that voters “should trust the USPS” to deliver applications and ballots.
Election mail, whether placed in a blue mailbox or handed to a mail carrier, stays within the town to be processed and will be delivered to the Town Clerk “very quickly,” she said.
“We have been in constant contact with the postmaster of the Wallingford post office (Stuart Brooks) and working in conjunction with the post office,” she said. “People should have faith in the Wallingford post office system.”
The Wallingford Town Clerk’s office hours will be changing as soon as the “influx of applications” starts, Thompson said.
Her office plans to be open to serve the public from 9 a.m. to noon and closed from noon to 5 p.m. to process applications.
Wallingford has four different ballots due to the four state House seats.
The clerk’s office has four full-time staff members plus one part-time seasonal employee.
Ballots can be returned via a drop box, through the regular mail or in person at the municipal clerk’s office. The polls will still be open for in-person voting.
When a person returns an absentee ballot, an “A” is recorded next to his or her name. On the Friday prior to Election Day, the official voter lists get printed, broken down by district, with names and addresses of every voter.
Voters with an “A” in front of their name who returned their absentee ballots by that Friday are crossed off in red.
On Election Day, the town clerk updates the moderators at the polling locations throughout the day with names of voters who turn in their absentee ballots to her office, or this year via the drop boxes.
This prevents people who turn in an absentee ballot from voting again at the polls. If a person is found to have voted both ways, their absentee ballot is voided.
As per state statute, if a voter has already returned an absentee ballot but changes their mind, they have until 10 a.m. on Election Day to ask the town clerk or person in the office for the absentee ballot to be pulled, destroyed, and then the town clerk calls the poll moderator to say they will be voting in person.
Voters should utilize the ballot drop boxes in the municipality where they are registered to vote.
The drop boxes are not like regular mailboxes. They are emptied by municipal clerk’s office employees and every town has its own drop boxes.
Voters should call the Town Clerk or Registrar of Voters in their town to see the locations of the drop boxes in their own towns.
“Obviously if we receive an application or ballot for another town,” Thompson said, “we will send it to the appropriate town. We just do not encourage using the wrong town's drop box.”