GOP primary with few voters will cost New Haven $25,000
New Haven, Connecticut doesn’t have a lot of Republican voters. Current figures show only 2,458 Republicans, out of an overall total of 64,302 who are registered to vote.
Despite that, state law requires the city to spend $25,000 on next month’s GOP presidential primary. That would be over $10 per voter, even if they were all to show up — which isn’t likely.
According to the New Haven Independent, during the 2008 Republican primary, only 898 Republicans voted. One district drew just a single Republican, while several other drew no more than five. In 2008, however, there was also a Democratic primary, so the poll workers had plenty to do. This year, that is not the case.
State law mandates that New Haven must hire four people — a moderator, an official checker, a ballot handler, and a machine tabulator — to work from 5 am to 9 pm at each of 32 polling places. The city’s Republican registrar of voters thinks that’s ridiculous, and her Democratic counterpart agrees.
The two women say they will be asking the Secretary of the State’s office for a waiver to allow the April 24 vote to be consolidated to perhaps a dozen polling places.
However, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and her elections staff attorney have already responded that it’s not possible without a change in the law, which currently requires the same polling places to be used for primaries as for general elections.
There are also fears that some voters could be disenfranchised if they do not have transportation to reach a poll that is further from their home.
The New Haven GOP chairman has already answered that with a suggestion that the city should simply pay for rides downtown for any voter who needs them. He figures that would be a lot cheaper than paying 128 people to sit around all day doing nothing.
Photo by Mike Loukides from Flickr