Feds to monitor voting in some cities, state ready to stop any harassment

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)  — The U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division is sending teams to Connecticut tomorrow to monitor voting. That’s just one of the steps being taken to insure a smooth election day when
more than one-and-a-half million Connecticut residents are expected at the polls.

Teams from the Civil Rights Division will be watching the voting in Hartford, New Britain, Middletown and four other communities in Central Connecticut to be sure federal voting laws are obeyed.

Related Content: Volunteers ready for problems at polling places

State Election officials say all of the state’s 760 voting precincts are ready to open for business at 6:00 a.m. As always, there will be poll workers from both major parties at all polling places to help people check in.

Every polling place has a ‘moderator’ who is in charge.

“There is no ‘observer status’ in Connecticut so if someone’s bothering voters on their way into the polls they will be asked to stop everyone knows what to do if they encounter anyone being harassed it will not be tolerated,” said Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

Related Content: News 8’s Connecticut Election Day Voter’s Guide

Election officials in all communities have been working with local law enforcement and police will be ready to respond to any kind of harassment at the polls.  Any campaigning or advocating for candidates must be done at least 75 feet from the door.

Says State Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi, “If anybody sees any issues at the polling place or otherwise; please contact the hotline immediately.”

Related Content: Unregistered voters can still register on Election Day

Hamden Attorney Dan Smolnik is one of more than one-hundred lawyers that will be on-call tomorrow for any voting disputes at any polling place, and he explained exactly what he’ll need to do.

Identify the facts, collect the facts, report them to the Secretary of the State’s office to the staff attorneys there and they’ll make the appropriate ruling. We’re not going to be making legal rulings in the field.”

The volunteer lawyers, from the Connecticut Bar Association, have had special training to probe the kinds of problems often encountered by poll workers.

Adds Smolnik,  “What’s appropriate identification, what happens if there’s a conflict in registrations; say a voter may recall having filed an absentee ballot but now wants to vote in person.”

The State of Connecticut election hotline will be staffed all day starting at 5:30 a.m. That number is 866-733-2463.

The U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division also has a hotline to report possible violations of federal voting rights laws. You can reach them at 800-253-3931.

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