Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have given local election officials discretion in deciding how many polling locations to open for a party primary. The measure also would have helped cities and towns save money. In his veto message Malloy said he understands it may have saved municipalities money, but it has the “potential for undermining the right to vote.” That’s largely what made the bill “unacceptable” to him. He said there’s a high probability of voters going to the wrong polling place and some may have difficulty reaching the alternative one or get frustrated and go home upon learning their regular polling place is closed. The bill gave local election officials 60 days to announce polling place consolidation efforts.
“Given the importance of ready access to the polls and my commitment to ensuring every eligible citizen their ability to vote, I cannot support this bill,” Malloy wrote. Malloy also opposed the procedure set forth by the legislation to oust a Registrar of Voters. In his veto message he wrote that the section wasn’t detailed enough and he didn’t believe there should be any margin of error when directing the courts about how to remove an elected official. However, the bill received broad bipartisan support in the General Assembly. It was unanimously approved by the Senate and passed on the consent calendar in the House.
Karen Cortes, the Simsbury Democratic Registrar of Voters, was one of the bill’s biggest proponents. Cortes has argued that 42.5 percent of the electorate is ineligible to vote in primaries and turnout among major party voters does not warrant the opening of all voting locations for primaries in many towns. Currently, state law requires all polling places to be opened for both the primary and general election.