Candidates disagree on election security in Connecticut
The Democratic and Republican nominee for secretary of state clashed on Tuesday over the security of Connecticut’s electoral system, whether to identify voters at the polls and whether voter fraud is a problem.
The postponed debate was sponsored by the League of Women Voters and CPTV.
“Government identification is fundamental to our democracy. It is fundamental for society, ”said Republican Dominic Rapini. “The idea that we don’t have voter registration cards is ridiculous.”
Representative Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk, who is the Democratic candidate, said most people already show their driver’s license to vote.
“I think mandating voter ID is really a solution looking for a problem,” Thomas said.
She said very few voters, if any, turn up at the polls trying to impersonate someone else.
Rapini said as secretary of state, it’s her job to make sure the election is “safe, secure and accessible.”
He alleged that 70% of Americans want voter ID cards.
They also clashed over the need for early voting. Thomas supports the idea, which will be a question on the ballot in November seeking to amend the state constitution to allow early voting.
If approved by voters, the question would pave the way for the state legislature to pass legislation joining Connecticut with 46 other states that allow some form of in-person voting before Election Day. Currently, the only other states without early voting are Alabama, Mississippi and New Hampshire, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Rapini opposed the policy, in part because of the potential cost to municipalities of being required to staff polling places for a longer period. Rapini said that extra spending could cost cities millions, depending on the early voting period allowed in the eventual law passed by the legislature.
Rapini said this created an opportunity for more fraud.
“I want political campaigns not to be about handing out mail-in ballots,” Rapini said. “And leave that responsibility to the voters where it belongs.”
Thomas alleged that Rapini’s tweets, “taking a germ of truth and stretching it,” are part of the problem of misinformation in the electoral process. “It’s a real threat.”
She said there needs to be investment in the voting infrastructure, but that has nothing to do with the fraud that Rapini says exists in the system.
“Our system has always had fraud. There is no anti-fraud system,” Thomas said. “I think the absence of fraud is unrealistic.”
Rapini replied “so I’m glad you don’t work for a bank.” He said there was a “zero tolerance policy” there and that “this should be true for our elections“.
He said there was no “acceptable level of fraud”.
Thomas said all complaints Rapini, as a former chairman of the board of directors of a nonprofit organization called Fight Voter Fraud Inc., brought before state election regulators, have been found to be without foundation.
“Here we go again to deviate,” Rapini said. “I have always asked about our elections.”
He said it was not about fraud, it was about fixing the system.
When asked if she wanted to comment, Thomas said simply “alternative facts.”
At one point in the debate, Rapini asked why independent candidate Cynthia Jennings was not included in the debate.
“I find that quite insulting since she’s also an African-American woman,” Thomas said.