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Without federal aid, towns worry about mail-in ballot costs

August 15, 2021 GMT

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A year after receiving a huge influx of federal aid for the mailing of absentee ballot applications, town clerks across Connecticut are facing the prospect of not having enough money to do the same for Nov. 2 local elections.

They told the Connecticut Post that local budgets were set months ago and there may not be additional money for printing, postage and office workers. Absentee ballots are supposed to be ready for the public by Oct. 1.

“With cities and towns finalizing their annual budgets in the spring, town clerks do not have the necessary funds built into their current budget to cover the costs of postage and staff to process the possible increase in applications,” Kate Wall, president of the Connecticut Town Clerks Association, told the newspaper.

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The secretary of state’s office said a provision in the state budget allows people to continue to cite pandemic-related concerns to request using voting by mail or drop-off ballots this year. The $15 million in federal support for state elections last year, which also included cyber security measures, was a one-time event and is not available this year, the Post reported.

About 666,000 absentee ballots were cast by mail or dropped off in local boxes for last year’s presidential election.

A spokesperson for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill blamed the lack of funding this year on Republicans in the legislature who oppose mail-in balloting.

Republican House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora told the Post his party has opposed mail-in ballots because of what he called “an unmitigated disaster” last year in which applications were mailed to people who hadn’t lived in the state or voted in years.