Connecticut Election Officials Leery Of Voter Intimidation Amid Polarizing Presidential Race | Connecticut Public Radio
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Connecticut Election Officials Leery Of Voter Intimidation Amid Polarizing Presidential Race

Oct 16, 2020

Connecticut’s secretary of the state is serving notice to anyone planning to hassle voters at the polls in the upcoming general election.

Denise Merrill said if someone’s accused of voter intimidation, they’ll face prison time.

“I feel that Connecticut is one of those states that would not tolerate any kind of intimidating behavior at the polling places and we’ve never seen this in Connecticut.” Merrill said. “But, this is an unusual year. Tensions are running high.”

Merrill said she’s speaking out because she’s worried about the divisive national political landscape. Earlier this month, she denounced President Donald Trump’s call to supporters to monitor poll places during a televised debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, saying it “horrified” her.

"I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen," Trump said on September 29.

While she said nothing in Connecticut prompted this advisory, she did address an email from the local GOP party attempting to whip up an “army for Trump” to do poll work. She called that “unfortunate wording.”

JR Romano, the chairman of the CT GOP, disagrees.

“It’s a turn of a phrase that’s been around forever,” Romano said. “It was a political ask for volunteers. It’s ridiculous that the Democrats are responding this way.”

Romano said CT GOP is recruiting volunteers so they could send a poll watcher to every polling location.

Parties are allowed a checker – and a challenger -- at each spot. Merrill said those individuals need to have party support and approval from a local registrar.