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Elections Government

What You Need to Know about Voting in West Hartford in 2020

A secure ballot drop box is now located at the Faxon Library, 1073 New Britain Ave., West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The Town of West Hartford has produced a YouTube video with important information about voting in the 2020 presidential election.

By Ronni Newton

The Town of West Hartford is working to ensure that the election process runs as smoothly as possible, and has produced a video educating voters about voting by absentee ballot or at one of the town’s nine polling places.

In the video, which is available below and on West Hartford Community Interactive’s YouTube channel, Mayor Shari Cantor, Town Clerk Essie Labrot, and Registrars of Voters Beth Kyle and Patrice Peterson walk voters through the absentee voting process, highlight changes to expect at polling places, and also provide assurance of the safety of voting through whatever method is chosen.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all eligible voters in Connecticut are being provided with the opportunity to vote by absentee ballot in this year’s election, and roughly 2 million applications were sent to registered voters by the Secretary of State’s Office in September.

Labrot said that as of Thursday morning, nearly 15,000 of those applications had been returned.

“We were first in the state as of yesterday,” Labrot said, but as of Thursday Stamford, which has more than 70,000 registered voters, now has had the most absentee ballot applications submitted.

There are currently 41,032 active voters registered in West Hartford, Labrot said.

Ballots will be mailed out beginning Friday, Oct. 2. Labrot said she already had received a small supply, and expected to receive another 40,000 on Thursday.

Absentee ballot applications can still be returned, but should be submitted no later than Oct. 26 to ensure that a ballot can be received and returned to Town Hall by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Ballots received after that time will not be accepted.

Applications – as well as completed ballots – can be returned by mail in the postage paid envelope provided, or can be dropped off at one of the secure ballot drop boxes. There are two drop boxes at Town Hall, and a third drop box was just installed and unlocked Wednesday at the Faxon Library, 1073 New Britain Ave.

The Faxon Library drop box is located at the edge of the parking lot (entrance on Woodlawn Street), and has security cameras in place, good lighting, and accessibility – all of which were important considerations.

Labrot said that while some towns have just one drop box, West Hartford has such high volume we have three.

“The boxes in West Hartford are only for West Hartford voters,” Labrot said. If you aren’t able to use the box in your own town, applications and ballots should be mailed.

During the August primary process, a few ballots that belonged to other towns were deposited in the West Hartford boxes, and while town staff was able to deliver them to the appropriate location, that might not be possible for the November election depending on the timing.

Labrot said she also received a call from someone at college out of state, asking if they could use one of the drop boxes there, and she stressed that only applications and ballots for that particular town should be deposited in that town’s drop boxes.

If you request a ballot, you can still vote in person provided you have not submitted the ballot. Labrot said.

Voters who do plan to vote in person can return their absentee ballot applications and receive a ballot, and hang onto it just in case they become sick, or are otherwise unable to vote in person.

“If people are worried about the potential of sickness, I think they should submit the application. They can always choose not to return the ballot,” Labrot said, adding that there is no way to predict right now what will happen at the end of October.

The Town Clerk’s Office has received many questions about voting, and fielded 4,777 phone calls during the month of September, Labrot said.

In the November 2016 presidential election, a total of 33,984 votes were cast in West Hartford, and of those 4,221 were by absentee ballot.

A total of 10,503 votes were cast in the Republican and Democratic primaries in August 2020, and of those, a total of 7,616 were by absentee ballot.

Labrot said previously that she expects to issue about 30,000 absentee ballots for the 2020 presidential election.

The state House approved a bill Wednesday that, if passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Ned Lamont, would allow the outer envelopes of absentee ballots to be opened beginning the Friday before Election Day. Ballots will not actually be counted until Election Day.

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