Fairfield nursing home residents still registered to vote in town
Published 12:00 am, Friday, November 4, 2016
The Jewish Home for the Elderly is now located in Bridgeport, and its Jefferson Street property, owned by Sacred Heart University, is empty.
“At last check, there were 78 active voters at that address, and one attempt to pull an absentee ballot,” RTC Chairman James Millington said. He said Democratic Registrar of Voters Matt Waggner told him those names would remain active until after the election, when the office will do a canvass of the district. “I think that this just opens us to voter fraud,” Millington said.
While Millington said he was told he could contest any ballots cast from that location, he said he doesn’t see why he should have to monitor voting when the registrar could simply make the registrations inactive.
“When somebody dies, they are immediately removed from the voter rolls, and they do not wait for canvassing,” Millington said. “The fact that the Jewish Home is closed and no one lives there is a well-documented fact, and I requested that they be designated ‘inactive.’”
According to Millington, Republican Registrar Roger Autuori agreed to put Jewish Home residents on the inactive list, but Waggner would not.
Waggner said he explained to Millington they are only permitted to send notices initiating a removal between Jan. 1 and May of each year. He said they prepared voter registrations forms to help Jewish Home residents register at their new Bridgeport address, but apparently, not all of them did.
Any voter who showed up at the polls claiming to live at 175 Jefferson St. “would call attention to themselves, and almost certainly invite an elections enforcement action,” Waggner said. “As we do not know which residents moved to the new facility, and which moved to a different nursing home or family address, it is not appropriate to terminate their voting rights without due process,” he said.
According to Waggner, the practice of a political party directing the removal of voters from the rolls is called “voter caging” and is not permitted in Connecticut.
“Certainly, even if well-intentioned, targeting an ethnic group for removal from the voting list ten days before an election would be the kind of thing that would invite the most strict kind of legal scrutiny, which is why it’s important to perform all voter removal programs in a timely, uniform, and legal way,” Waggner said.
Millington countered that the canvass is done to determine if registered voters are still living at the address on the voter rolls.
“We do not know if these people are still living there or not,” Millington said. “In the case of the Jewish Home for the Elderly, there is clear documentation that no one lives there and the building is vacant.”
He said Waggner’s claims of targeting voters based on ethnicity is “beyond offensive and completely absurd.” Millington said the Jewish Home facility is for people of all faiths. Waggner said he does not doubt Millington is being anything but well-intentioned and “I have no intention of accusing him of anything nefarious.”
“The Registrar of Voters are supposed to maintain the integrity of the voter rolls” Millington said. “I do not think that leaving people as active voters at a vacant building maintains that integrity.”
Millington said if the Jewish Home residents were marked inactive, and then tried to vote, they could still do so at the election day registration location, so long as they still lived in Fairfield.