I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a political nerd. I’m such a political nerd that in a few elections, I was a poll worker in my hometown. I think voting is one of the most important things we do as citizens – and frankly, it’s one of the easiest things we do. Leading up to this election, the stories about voter apathy, low voter turnout, etc. had me depressed, like they always do.
When I got to Kennelly, though, I was feeling encouraged about voter turnout. Cars lined the street and there seemed to be a steady stream of people walking into the school. Once I was in the auditorium, I was further encouraged. There was an actual line to check in. I think this is the third time I’ve voted since moving here, and this was the first time I had to stand in line to vote.
Ten minutes later, I realized that the wait wasn’t necessarily due to large numbers of eager voters lining up to exercise their civic duty, but instead was due to inadequate direction, extremely slow address and name checking, and confusion caused by people cutting in and out of lines on their way in and out of the building. It wasn’t quite chaos, but it was close.
Once I finally got to the check-in table, the checker made me repeat my street name more than once. She finally found me on the list — and crossed my name off without checking my ID. When I offered my license, she waved me towards the next table and said: “I trust you.” Which, of course, is completely unacceptable. I should have said something. Instead, I pocketed my license and went to get my ballot.
The ballot clerk handed me my scantron in my folder. When I asked how to vote for a write-in candidate, she seemed surprised, then told me only “there’s a row for that.” When I asked for more instructions, she showed me the row on the bottom of my ballot and said all I had to do was fill in the write-in bubble and write in the candidate’s name. There was no list of certified write-in candidates at my polling place.
Pretty much the only thing I like about the scantron voting is that the machine allows voters to see how many people have voted so far. I was voter number 915 at Kennelly at about 6:30pm. According to the Registrar’s website, there are 2786 registered voters in my district. I can only hope that by 8pm, that number has jumped to at least 50%.
The fact that the clerk was surprised about my write-in question saddens me even more than the low turnout, though. I live in the 6th district. Our state rep is Hector Robles, who was just fired by the Hartford Police Department after a months-long investigation into alleged falsified time cards. In other words, Robles billed the city for time he wasn’t working for the city, but was instead working other jobs. He falsified his time cards to the tune of almost $10K. Unfortunately, though, HPD waited until YESTERDAY to fire him. YESTERDAY, as in, the day before the election. The day before voters in my district were to be handed a ballot sheet with only one candidate name listed for that office — Hector Robles. They fired him YESTERDAY even though the investigation was supposedly completed on October 19.
Although there are three certified write-in candidates, two Democrats and one Republican, they’ve gotten press almost exclusively from bloggers. They have no money. They have little name recognition. And they weren’t on the ballot. That situation, coupled with the ballot clerk’s surprise when I asked about voting for a write-in candidate, means Robles will win re-election in a landslide. And then what? We in the 6th district have to hope that he’s pressured to resign? Does he keep his state job until the State’s Attorney pursues criminal charges and Robles gets convicted?
I can only hope that the state and city Democrats actually do the right thing here and use whatever power they have to get Robles booted out of the House. The last thing the people of Hartford need is another crook representing us.