How an Election is Run
How Election Officials are Chosen
By state law, each registrar appoints one-half of the election officials at each polling place. All election officials are sworn to uphold the election laws and to administer the election on a non-partisan basis. Equipment, ballots and supplies are transported to the polls in a locked and sealed transport cabinet. There are several inner numbered seals as well, and all these numbers are recorded for security. At the end of the day the equipment and ballots are placed back in the cabinet and it is re-locked and re-sealed.
Most details about the process of setting up the voting equipment for the election, opening the polls, running the election, closing the polls, and tallying the results are contained in the Moderator's Handbook, and the Connecticut Poll Worker Manual. These documents, along with training videos and other materials, are used by the Registrars in training election workers.
List of Election Officials at a Polling Place
a. Moderators. The Moderator serves as the chief public official at each polling place.
b. Assistant Registrars. The assistant registrars deal with all voters whose names are not on the official voting list and all other problems.
c. Checkers. The Official Checkers locate a voter’s name in the official lists and mark the list to record that the voter has come to vote in person on election day. They also check each voter’s identification pursuant to state law. Any problems are referred to the moderator and assistant registrars.
d. Ballot Clerks. The Ballot Clerk gives each voter who has checked in a ballot and offers the voter a privacy folder. Any who voter spoils his ballot, or wishes to change it, may get a new ballot in exchange for his old ballot. The Ballot Clerk keeps track of the number of ballots issued.
e. Tabulator Tenders. The Tabulator Tender is in charge of the voting tabulator and for assisting voters who ask for assistance, while preserving the voters’ right to ballot secrecy. The Tabulator Tender is position at least three to four feet from the Tabulator.
f. Demonstrators. Demonstrators are available to educate voters on the correct manner in which to cast their ballots and are available to answer questions from voters about the process. The also assist the Moderator in crowd control. They are usually appointed for elections where a high turn-out is expected.
Voting Hours: 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., pursuant to state law. Anyone in line at 8:00 p.m. will be able to vote. Local voting officials have no authority to extend the hours of voting. Anyone who says the voting hours have been changed is almost certainly wrong or lying.
75 Foot Sign
State law prohibits electioneering inside a polling place and within 75 feet of the door to the building where the election is held. A sign is placed at each polling place marking the edge of the 75 foot zone. No political signs are to be placed nearer to the door than this sign. No one is permitted to solicit anyone’s vote within this zone. No one coming to vote or otherwise coming within this zone is allowed to exhibit any campaign button, sticker, sign, clothing, or literature. These items must be removed and placed in a bag or pocket until the voter leaves. A T-shirt or other item of clothing may be removed, or turned inside-out if that is sufficient to make the slogan invisible. The same rules apply to candidate items, political issue items, and political party items. Election officials have the legal power to enforce this rule, and to summon the police, if necessary. Disrupting the smooth and orderly conduct of an election is a serious offense.
Offering Assistance to Voters
If a voter asks for assistance in filling out their ballot, two election officials of opposite political parties will help him.
Processing a Voter
The official checkers check-off the voter’s name on the official check list of registered voters. The ballot clerk then issues the voter a ballot and offers him a privacy folder. The voter is directed to an available privacy booth, where he reads the instructions on the ballot and fills out his ballot by filling in the ovals next to his choices. The voter then proceeds to the optical scan voting machine (tabulator) and inserts the ballot for counting. After the tabulator accepts the ballot, the voter should exit the polling place without delay.
Handling Spoiled Ballots
A voter may request a new ballot at any time prior to acceptance of his ballot by the optical scanner in the tabulator. Voters must surrender their original ballot before being given a new ballot by the ballot clerk. The ballot clerk marks the old ballot “Spoiled” and draws a line through the timing marks on the edge so that it cannot be read by the tabulator. This ballot is placed in a depository envelope. The number of spoiled ballots is recorded at the end of voting, and the sum of this number plus the number of ballots voted is compared to the number of packets of ballots which were opened less the number of ballots remaining and never used.
Returned or Rejected Ballots
The tabulator tender is available to assist a voter if his ballot is rejected by the optical scan mechanism. The tabulator tender should not look at the markings on the ballot. A voter’s right to a secret ballot must be preserved. The voter should read the LCD window on the tabulator and tell the tabulator tender what message is displayed. If the message is no longer visible, the voter can reinsert his ballot and either the message will reappear, or the tabulator will accept the ballot. The tabulator is designed to read ballots forwards, backwards, right-side up, or right-side down – every way except sideways. Sometimes inserting the ballot a different way will allow the ballot to be tabulated.
The tabulator will reject a blank ballot, i.e. one with no readable votes. The voter can fix this by filling in the ovals properly. The tabulator will reject a ballot with an “overvote,” i.e. with votes for too many candidates in any race. The voter can fix this by obtaining a new ballot and filling it out properly. Alternatively, the voter can put his ballot in the Auxiliary Compartment on the side. In this case the ballot will be hand-counted at the end of the day. If there is an overvote in any race, that race will not be counted, but other correctly voted races will be recorded. If the machine cannot read any votes, hand counting may still yield valid votes if the voter’s intent can be determined. Occasionally voters will fill in the oval for the same candidate twice in the same race. This can only happen when the candidate appears on two lines, because he is endorsed by two parties, or when the voter writes-in the candidates name as well as filling in the oval for the same candidate. This is valid, but it counts as just one vote for the candidate, not two. In the case of a candidate appearing on two ballot lines, the tabulator will count the vote and record it as “unknown party”. Where a candidate’s name is written-in, as well as voted correctly, the vote will be tallied during the hand count.
Emptying the Ballot Box
From time to time the ballot box will fill up, as it only holds about 1,000 ballots. Election officials will empty the box and place the ballots in a sealed bag or box container for safe-keeping. Voting can continue by voters using the Auxiliary Compartment on the side, or voters can wait a few moments until the election officials have completed this task and announced that the voting by tabulator can resume.