City clerk: Shelton ballot application signature may break rules

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Exterior of Shelton City Hall, in Shelton, Conn. Jan. 11, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — City Clerk Margaret Domorod has contacted the State Elections Enforcement Commission, questioning if an alderman candidate violated election law in how he filled out absentee ballot applications sent to residents.

The applications were sent out by mayoral candidate David Eldridge’s campaign. On these applications are the voter’s information — name, address and date of birth. All of that is public information and legal to include. The application also includes the required signature from Third Ward alderman candidate Chris Jones declaring he provided assistance filling it out.

The issue is that Jones’ signature was photocopied, not in “wet ink” as called for by the Secretary of the State’s Office. Domorod confirmed that the signature was not an ink signature. She emailed the State Election Enforcement Commission on Oct. 5 to inquire as to the validity of the unsolicited absentee ballot applications with Section 4 completed with a candidate’s signature.

On Oct. 6, Theodore E Bromley, director of elections with the Secretary of the State’s Office, sent a letter to city clerks throughout the state informing them that his office was aware that many clerk’s offices have received some completed absentee ballot applications where a campaign has filled in Section 1, the section with the voter’s information.

Bromley stated that “this requires the person who filled out Section 1 of the application to also complete Section 4 as an assistor of the applicant and personally sign the application — aka, in ‘wet ink.’”

Jones said he was aware of the potential violation.

“The issue regarding the solicitor signature is between me and the Secretary of the State’s Office,” Jones said. “The details in regards to what constitutes a wet-ink signature during COVID is being researched and discussed.”

Jones said he considered all absentee ballot applications sent to be valid, and that subsequent ballots would be processed and counted.

“There should be no question about that,” Jones said. “In the correspondence sent to voters, we instructed voters to contact the City Clerk’s Office if they have any questions.

Domorod said that residents can always discard these applications and come to the city clerk’s office to obtain another application or download one from the city clerk’s website or from the Secretary of the State’s Office website.

“I have informed voters who have called the office in reference to applications in question that the applications are valid,” Domorod said, “But if they do not wish to submit them, we can either send them another or they may download one on the Secretary of the State or city of Shelton website.”

Domorod said she was not certain any election law was violated, but she felt the commission should be made aware of the situation.

Those complaining, she said, said that they did not know the individual who sent the application and were concerned that it included all their personal information. Domorod said residents also stated that no one helped them fill out the application and were confused that someone signed in the section that states they assisted.

Gabe Rosenthal of the Secretary of the State’s Office said the inclusion of the personal information is legal, copies of the voter rolls can be purchased for $300. But the signature needs to be done in ink, not by another method, such as a stamp.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com