'They were very upset': Faulty postcards cause confusion in Trumbull

Photo of Amanda Cuda
Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. Aug. 24, 2017.

Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. Aug. 24, 2017.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — A broken voting machine, voters going to the wrong polling place and issues entering results into the statewide election management system were some of the issues that plagued Trumbull on election day.

The last was a particular problem, said Democratic Registrar of Voters Jean Rabinow. She said the office was under a deadline to report the voting results by midnight, but the Secretary of the State's election system kept locking local officials out.

"It locked us out for sometimes as much as 45 minutes at a time," Rabinow said.

When local officials contacted the state about the problem, Rabinow said she was told they weren't the only town having the problem. She said Trumbull missed its deadline to file results, and officials were still entering them around 2 a.m.

Trumbull has had issues with the election management system before, notably in the 2021 local election, when officials in the registrar's office were unable to enter Board of Education results from some precincts. 

However, Rabinow said Tuesday night's issues with the statewide system were the worst she had seen.

Other issues seemed less severe, though still irksome. Due to redistricting on the state and local levels, many voters had new polling places in this election.

Postcards were sent out to voters alerting them to their new polling places. However, Rabinow said, in cards sent to voters in Trumbull's seventh district, there was a misprint that gave the wrong address for their polling place, Christian Heritage School. Cards were later sent out with the correct address.

Rabinow said that was the only error that she knew of the cards. Still, she said, there was some human error that led to people showing up at the wrong polling place. In some cases, she said, they went to buildings — including Hillcrest Middle School — that weren't being used as polling places in any district. She said it's likely that many of those who made the mistakes received the postcards, but didn't pay attention to them.

Either way, Rabinow said, the registrar and even the first selectman's office received many calls from voters who unintentionally went to the wrong place.

"They were very upset," she said.

Then there was the matter of the machine at Booth Hill School that malfunctioned and had to be replaced around 10 a.m. Tuesday. Rabinow said the problem required the votes that had already been cast in the machine — about 500, according to Booth Hill moderator George Luft — to be re-scanned.

"The voters were incredibly patient while we were doing that," said Rabinow, who was present, along with other election officials.