Referral of the Office of the Secretary of the State
Town Clerk Did Not Timely Deliver 14 Absentee Ballots
Administrative Law | Election and Political Law
- State Elections Enforcement Commission
- Jun 19 2013 (Date Decided)
- Castagno, Chair
A town clerk can violate Connecticut General Statutes §9-140c(h), if absentee ballots are not timely forwarded to the registrar of voters. After the Nov. 6, 2012, election, the respondent town clerk, Elizabeth Wilson, allegedly discovered that 14 absentee ballots had been misplaced and had not been counted. The town clerk consulted with the registrar of voters. The registrar contacted the Office of the Secretary of the State, which informed the State Elections Enforcement Commission. The commission investigated and found that no electors were disenfranchised. "Due, in part, to this timely self-reporting and advice seeking," wrote the commission, "the misplaced absentee ballots were in fact counted and included in the final totals with the State of Connecticut and reports were amended as necessary to reflect this change." The respondent town clerk was officially designated, pursuant to statute, as the custodian of the absentee ballots. Connecticut General Statutes §9-140c(a) provides, "The municipal clerk shall retain the envelopes containing absentee ballots received . . . under section 9-140b and shall not open such envelopes." The respondent town clerk conceded that C.G.S. §9-140c(h) was violated, because the misplaced absentee ballots were not provided timely to the registrar. C.G.S. §9-140c(h) requires that "[a]bsentee ballots received after six o'clock p.m. and any ballots received prior to six o'clock p.m. which were not delivered earlier shall be delivered to the registrars at the close of the polls for checking." Although the risk of disenfranchisement was significant, there was no evidence of actual disenfranchisement. The State Elections Enforcement Commission fined the respondent town clerk $1,000, and suspended the payment of the fine.