‘Capitol Connection’ – Disappointed by Governor’s Veto

June 13, 2012

A few months ago, I wrote a column about the importance of our voting rights. There were several proposals during the 2012 legislative session that would have made changes to the way we vote here in Connecticut. I was supportive of some of these bills but opposed to others. One bill that I introduced was Senate Bill 218, “An Act Concerning Polling Places for Primaries,” in an effort to limit state mandates on small towns and save taxpayer dollars. However, I found out last week that Governor Malloy has unfortunately decided to veto this important and bipartisan bill.

S.B. 218, which became Public Act 12-73 after broad and unanimous legislative support, would have allowed small towns to reduce the number of polling places for primaries. A primary is an election between candidates of the same political party that will decide the one candidate to represent the party in the next general election. Oftentimes, primaries are lower profile elections that see fewer people turning out to vote at polling places.

As one might believe, it is expensive to keep multiple schools or other polling places open and pay poll workers for their service. This legislation would have allowed small towns to achieve potential cost savings by consolidating the number of polling places. In this economy, state and local governments must work to conserve taxpayer dollars and resources, and this proposal was one method to help in that effort.

In addition, this common sense proposal was bipartisan in nature. I co-sponsored this legislation along with 15 others, both Republicans and Democrats. Believe it or not, both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted unanimously to pass this bill. By placing it on the consent calendar, the entire General Assembly voted together to support the proposal. For this reason, I am especially surprised over the veto.

In his veto message, the Governor shared concerns that the cost savings benefits could potentially undermine the right to vote because registrars might not have enough time to alert voters to changes in polling locations. However, the bill would have given 21 days of notice to voters which I believe to be an adequate amount of time.

Also, other voting proposals were signed into law, including one that allows election day registration despite much concern over the possibility of voter fraud. If this bill was worthy of becoming law, then surely a proposal to help towns save money should be worth it as well. Since the end of the legislative session, the Governor has signed 93 bills and vetoed three others.

Ultimately, I was disappointed that the Governor would veto this common sense and bipartisan bill that would have saved small towns from spending too much on primary elections that may not draw many voters. With this veto, taxpayers will continue to be on the hook where potential cost savings may have otherwise been available. Unfortunately, this means that the proposal will not be heard again until next year’s legislative session. I certainly plan on reintroducing this and other measures designed to save your hard earned tax dollars.