In theory, anyone who’s eligible but not registered in the state of Connecticut can register to vote the day of an election and cast a provisional ballot. But it’s a three-step process which takes some time, and that was the stumbling block for New Haven during Tuesday's election.
Just two city workers tried to process literally hundreds of applicants who thronged City Hall throughout the day, the vast majority of them Yale University students.
Some ended up being sworn in en masse just before the 8pm deadline, and casting their ballots late.
Armando Herrería is from Massachusetts, but wanted to make his vote count in Connecticut.
“I was really frustrated with the way that city hall officials were actively discouraging folks from voting,” Herreria said. “They were posting signs that essentially told voters that if they arrived after 4pm that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to vote. That is to me completely unconstitutional.”
Kevin Arnold, the city’s moderator of Election Day Registration told the New Haven Independent the rules for same day registration are designed for smaller cities.
“If you go into Hamden or West Haven or Branford, East Haven, they’re probably going to have 20, 30 people registering today,” Arnold said. “So the laws and the systems that are set up aren’t going to cause them that much of a heartache. Where New Haven, as you can see, this many people -- the cities have budget issues - they can’t go and hire all these people to sit around and take care of this.”
For a short time the chaotic situation at New Haven City Hall threatened to become an issue in the outcome of the governor’s race, which tightened in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The Stefanowski campaign went to court to get a temporary injunction to have the ballots examined further. But as Ned Lamont’s lead grew, that effort was abandoned.