By John McNamara
Republican Mayor Erin Stewart and Registrar of Voters Peter Gostin are moving quickly to reduce voter access to polling places for the November Presidential election.
A plan drafted by Republican Gostin will come up for a fast-tracked feasibility study vote at the Wednesday January 27th Common Council meeting.
The feasibility study apparently has the support of Democrat Carlo Carlozzi, Jr., the council minority leader. Consideration of the plan would appear to be a done deal if the Council majority agrees to look into sudden changes in where the electorate votes in 2016 . Carlozzi, however, maintains that he will oppose sudden changes in polling places despite supporting the feasibility move by Republicans.
Democratic legislators and other Democratic leaders are expected to strongly oppose any changes so close to a primary and the general election especially for its impact on elderly and minority voters.
Facing a tight timeline, GOP leaders and the Registrars met on Monday to float the plan to reduce the number of polling places in the city from 17 to 13 on the eve of an April 26th presidential primary and the November general election.
The plan takes direct aim at two polling places in the central part of the city — the Graham and School Apartment polling places — where a minority and older population reside.
The GOP plan would eliminate those polling places and residents would apparently be offered a shuttle to the New Britain Senior Center to vote, according to Democratic Registrar Juan Verdu.
Also under consideration is the elimination of two additional polling places including the Holmes School (District 11) and the Armory (District 6). The Armory District is also in the center of New Britain where many minority residents live.
Republican Registrar Gostin has previously floated a plan to reduce polling places in the city from 17 to 10. Gostin, who lobbied heavily for a pay raise for himself in 2015, is calling for reduced voter access as a way to save the city money, but apparently not to reduce the payroll and administrative expenses in his office.
The Common Council meeting on January 27th begins at 7 p.m. with public participation.