East Haven’s celebration for receiving the esteemed Democracy Cup — an award given to municipalities with the highest percentage of voter turnout — proved short-lived as the town had to forfeit the honor due to inaccuracies in reported voter turnout.
The town reported a 68.71% voter turnout and according to a statement from the East Haven Office of the Registrar of Voters, as part of the celebration, Secretary of the State (SOTS) Stephanie Thomas was set to visit East Haven on Tuesday (Jan. 30) at 9:00 am to present the award.
However, a statement from the SOTS to Yankee Institute revealed a different story.
The SOTS asserts, “Due to a human error during East Haven’s data entry process that follows an election, the mathematical output we used to select the Democracy Cup winner was incorrect. Once East Haven saw our talking points for the award ceremony, they investigated and quickly discovered the error. East Haven is not the winner in the ‘Mid-Sized Town’ category.”
Seeking further clarification, the East Haven registrar’s office replied to YI that they have since revised the percentage to 36.4% turnout, attributing the discrepancy to an error in the total number of electors.
According to an email response from East Haven Registrar Alberta Vitale, “The total number of electors should have been based on the total for each district from all of the voter checklists (two checklists per district; one for streets A-L and another for M-Z; total electors needed to be manually added then input into the election database.) The numbers entered were from only one checklist for each district and therefore represented only about half of the quantity of electors.”
Vitale also clarified that, “the error does not affect the outcome of the elections in East Haven as votes per candidate is based on tabulator data and is correct.”
In response to the unexpected turn of events, East Haven resident and poll volunteer Lorena Venegas shared her perspective on the situation, highlighting concerns about transparency and accountability in capturing and reporting local voter statistics.
Speaking to Yankee Institute, Venegas remarked, “This is an example of the lack of transparency and accountability in capturing and reporting local voter statistics. The next step is for the result sheets to be updated at the local and Secretary of the State office.”
Having been a poll volunteer in the last three elections, Venegas “likes to follow the numbers” and “knew when [she] read that head moderator sheet, something was wrong.”
Reflecting on the incident she stated, “It matters to me to have integrity in voting processes.”
Venegas’s insight sheds light on the importance of vigilance in maintaining the accuracy of election data and how a lack of transparency and accuracy disenfranchises voters from participating in the electoral process.
Regarding the announcement of the official winner, the SOTS office responded, stating, “We have not formally announced it yet, but we have notified the town. We will be issuing an announcement when we can do a presentation to them with the Secretary.”