Why can’t Connecticut do elections right? Once again, we’ve had angry would-be voters standing around for hours, stymied by administrative snafus, mainly in our state’s major cities.
Once again, the courts had to get involved. This time it was New Haven, last time it was Hartford, before that it was Bridgeport.
And yet, we’ve been at this democracy stuff since 1788. When will we start getting it right?
For one thing, it seems that despite the army of temporary workers on hand, there were not enough people at New Haven City Hall who were able to use the Secretary of the State’s system to handle the many last-minute registrants. It stands to reason that all those temps are going to have questions on a busy Election Day, and that the phone is not going to stop ringing.
For another thing, this whole business of Election Day Registration (called EDR; not to be confused with ED, or PDQ, or LS/MFT) is unreasonable and unnecessary. Just about everyone had a whole year since the last election to get ready for this one, if they wanted to vote.
And even college students (since the problems this time were concentrated mainly in New Haven and Mansfield) had more than a month to register.
The registrars plan for weeks, training temps as well as they can to be ready to do a month’s worth of work in one day. At busy locations some of these folks work from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. with barely a break, let alone a meal — because that’s what it can take just to handle the people who are already registered to vote.
And this year there were also a raft of wet ballots to cope with, using paper towels and hair dryers.
But these days the poll workers are also expected to do what should be preparatory work — registration — as well, “live.” It’s like a restaurant: All the prep work has been done before rush hour, when the diners arrive for dinner. Otherwise, you’d have to wait forever for your meal, and you’d walk out.
“As the two deputy registrars, Noreen Wilcox and I were responsible for the Election Day registration operations at Meriden City Hall,” Anna P. Neumon, secretary of the Meriden Republican Town Committee, wrote to this newspaper after the election.
“We processed 366 people who came to register on Election Day,” she wrote. “At times it was grueling, with a constant line,” but everyone got registered by the deadline and “everyone was able to vote.”
Kudos to all involved — but why does it have to be such an ordeal? If people were so eager to vote, why couldn’t they find one hour, sometime during the previous year, to go down and register?
My personal voting experience, though (at what once was my elementary school), went very smoothly, with no waiting. But I couldn’t help noticing (as I can never help noticing when I vote) that there’s no sign of the plaque that once graced a wall of the school office, announcing Yrs Trly as the winner of the townwide 5th-grade spelling bee, in 1959.
Not quite the Pulitzer Prize, but I wonder what happened to that plaque.
Reach Glenn Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org.