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Town of Guilford prepares for primary election and potential problems

The town faced COVID-19 and other issues ahead of the election and is now concerned about the weather on primary day.

GUILFORD, Conn. — Tuesday’s primary election in Connecticut has taken many weeks of preparation for towns across the state. 

In Guilford, the town registrar of voters has faced polling site issues and COVID-19 ahead of the election and is watching out for potential problems once voting starts at six in the morning. They have five polling locations throughout the town.

RELATED: 2022 Connecticut primary voter guide: Everything you need to know before heading to the polls

“One, the air conditioning wasn’t working and all of the town between departments, public works, parks and rec, we have fans and hopefully a couple AC units,” Gloria Nemczuk, the Republican registrar, said.

They have had to pull in other resources to ensure poll workers and the ballots stay safe in the heat. Humidity can disrupt the ballot scanner’s ability to read a ballot. Democratic Registrar Lisa Kops said it can cause the ballot to curl. The state’s second heat wave of the season is expected to continue into Tuesday. 

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The Guilford registrar of voters says scanners may have a hard time reading ballots if they are damp, which is a concern because of the weather Tuesday.

If they are disrupted, they would have to be hand counted at the end of the night.

“lt would be difficult for them to go through the machine so we always hope that it’s not going to be that way, but I think we’re in for it,” she said.

RELATED: State election officials talk about voter turnout expectations ahead of primary day

They have also had to prepare by making sure they have enough ballots for those who want to vote. Historically, voter turnout in primary elections is much less than in general elections. Tuesday’s election in Connecticut is only for those registered in the Republican and Democrat parties. In Guilford, that’s about 55% of voters.

“We look back at the other primaries, how many percentage voted,” Nemczuk said. “The Secretary of State’s office produces, types out the ballots so we have to be careful that if the wording is right, all the names are spelt right, that’s a big part of it.”

The registrars also say summers are hard for elections because people are out of town and they need to let schools know months in advance if the building will be used as a polling site so any summer work can pause.

The road at Melissa Jones Elementary, serving as one polling site, is still under construction but the registrars say it will be prepared for people to vote Tuesday.

Guilford has hired 50 poll workers for Tuesday who go through several hours of training on the duties, rules, and regulations that come with being a poll worker. Scott Bates with the Secretary of the State’s office says poll workers are tried and tested and ready for the election.

“In the last primary two years ago, remember we had a tropical storm, power outages, and the pandemic, so our election officials can handle anything in Connecticut,” he said.

The pandemic is still impacting Guilford. Two poll workers notified the town Monday morning they have COVID-19. However, the registrars say this won’t impact people’s ability to vote.

RELATED: Candidates crisscross Connecticut in final hours leading up to Primaries

They say people should educate themselves on the candidates prior to voting because poll workers can’t answer questions about them. They can assist with how to fill out and cast the ballot. They encourage anyone able to vote, to do so.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


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