Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says that absentee ballots are mailed 21 days prior to a primary election. For this year’s Aug. 11 primary, that date was Tuesday, July 21. Now some voters have taken to social media to ask where their ballots are and when they can expect them to arrive.
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Voter Andrea Waxler still hasn’t received her absentee ballot after filling out the application when it came in the mail in July. She has contacted the state and the Beacon Falls town clerk, but she’s not satisfied with the response.
“There’s no answer, that’s what's frustrating,” Waxler said. “The town clerk has no answer, the secretary of the state is not giving any answer, and that just doesn’t engender confidence in the system.”
The best answer she got was from the secretary’s office: “It’s in the mail,” Waxler said.
Gabe Rosenberg, communications director for the secretary of the state, confirmed that ballots are in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service.
“By statute absentee ballots cannot be sent out until after July 21,” said Rosenberg, “so anyone who requested an absentee ballot ... prior to July 21 should be receiving it in the next couple days. It’s in process right now, it’s in the mail.”
Rosenberg said it takes about 24 hours from the time a town clerk receives an absentee ballot application to the time it gets to the Secretary of the State’s office for mailing. Last Tuesday, a mail house addressed and stamped the ballots and left them with the post office.
“Everything is happening as fast as it can happen,” Rosenberg said. “The only thing that we can’t plan for is the time that it takes the U.S. mail to get there.”
Unlike other states, Connecticut requires voters to apply for an absentee ballot, rather than just sending the ballots to all registered voters.
To make the process easier during the pandemic, an application was sent to every active eligible voter in the state, and because it’s a primary, registered Democrats and Republicans should have received an application. Official ballot boxes also have been sent to every town hall in the state.
Rosenberg says this makes for a lot of applications to process.
The final variable, of course, is the voters. Rosenberg says it’s important for them to act early.
“Do it as soon as possible, and if you can drop it in the mail -- great,” Rosenberg said. “And if you’re worried that it’s too close to the election, then drive down to your town hall and use the designated drop box that’s provided for that purpose -- and that does count as delivering it on time.”
Rosenberg added that for absentee ballots to be counted in Connecticut, they must be received, not postmarked, by the close of polls on election day.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of a concerned voter. She is Andrea Waxler, not Baxler.
Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.