Thursday, October 06, 2011

Voter F.A.Q.

Here are some answers to questions I've had in the past, and to questions I know other people have had. Let me know if you have questions I've missed, and I will try to find the answers.

Am I eligible to vote?
To be eligible to vote in Waterbury, you must be:
• A U.S. citizen
• A resident of Waterbury
• At least 18 years old by Election Day (November 8, 2011)
• Completed with confinement and parole if previously convicted of a felony and have had your voting rights restored.

How do I register to vote?
You must complete and return the State of Connecticut Voter Registration Form, which can be downloaded from the Waterbury Registrar’s webpage.

What is the deadline for registering to vote?
This year (2011), you have until October 25 to register by mail. You have until November 1 to register in person at the office of the Registrar of Voters.

Who is the Registrar of Voters?
Waterbury has two Registrars. Patricia Mulhall is the Democratic Registrar. Timothy DeCarlo is the Republican Registrar. Their office can be reached at (203) 574-6751.

The Registrars of Voters are responsible for conducting elections, primaries and special elections and maintaining accurate voter records. Other activities include redistricting, canvassing and registering voters, having special voting sessions and conducting registration sessions at high schools.

Where do I go to vote?
Your polling location (where you vote) is assigned based on your home address which you gave when you registered. If you have moved, but haven’t updated your information with the Registrar of Voters, your polling location will be based on your address when you registered.

You can look up your voting location online at

When do I vote?
Elections are held on the second Tuesday in November. This year (2011), Election Day is November 8. The polls open at 6 a.m. and stay open until 8 p.m.

What do I bring with me when I vote?
You will need to bring some form of identification. Acceptable forms of ID at the polling place are:
• Driver’s license or other current and valid photo ID showing your name and address
• Any other preprinted form of identification that shows your name and address, such as a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows your name and address.

Can I use an absentee ballot?
You may vote by absentee ballot if you are ill; physically disabled; serving in the military; those who will be out of town on election day; those providing service as poll worker in polling places other than their own; or those whose religion forbids secular activity on election day.

To obtain an absentee ballot, call the Registrar of Voters at (203) 574-6751.

How do I get a ride to the polls?
Campaign volunteers are happy to give you a free ride to your voting location. The Democrats can be reached at (203) 753-6345. You do not have to be registered as a Democrat to call.

(Full disclosure: I am a Democrat, active in the campaign, which is why I have that phone number. I do not know what numbers the other parties are using for rides to the polls, but I am sure they will publicize them before the election.)

What is the ballot like?
In Connecticut, voting is done by filling in an oval for the candidate with a black marker. When the ballot is completed, it is fed into a computer scanning machine.

Each slate of candidates is presented in a row. Because the current Governor is a Democrat, the local Democrat candidates are on Row A (in previous years they were on Row B because the Governor was a Republican).

You may select one candidate each for Mayor, Town Clerk, City Clerk and City Sheriff.
You may select any nine candidates for Board of Aldermen.
You may select any three candidates for Board of Education.

You can vote for more than one candidate per column for Board of Aldermen and Board of Education, so long as you do not vote for more than nine total candidates for Board of Aldermen and no more than three total candidates for Board of Education.

Why should I vote?
Local elections have a direct impact on your quality of life. The local government is responsible for the taxes you pay on your car and home, they are responsible for the local public schools, parks, sidewalks and streets, water and sewer services, public safety and winter plowing.

It has been my experience that city officials pay more attention to districts with high voter turnout, especially during campaign season (every other year in Waterbury).  

How do I find out more about the candidates?
Biographies of all the Democrat candidates are available online at
Short resumes of the Republican candidates are available online at
Information about the Independent candidates is online at

Profiles of candidates from all three parties will be available from the Republican-American at

The Waterbury Observer has conducted two-hour interviews with each of the three Mayoral candidates and will be publishing the transcripts online soon.

What does a Mayor do?
The Mayor is the chief executive officer of the City. The Mayor is responsible for the City Budget, the good order and efficient government of the City, appointing department heads and members of specific boards and commissions, and other duties as described in the City Charter. The Mayor reports to the Board of Aldermen on the condition of the City in relation to government, finances, public improvements and other issues.

The Democrat candidate for Mayor is Neil O'Leary.
The Republican candidate for Mayor is Michael Jarjura.
The Independent candidate for Mayor is Larry DePillo.

What does a Town Clerk do?
The Waterbury Town Clerk, currently Democrat Antoinette “Chick” Spinelli, is responsible for recording and indexing land records; issuing and recording vital records such as marriage licenses, birth certificates, burial permits and dog licenses; recording military discharges; keeping notary, justice of the peace and campaign finance records; issuing absentee ballots and preparing state election reports.

The Town Clerk’s office, located on the first floor of City Hall, is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

What does a City Clerk do?
The City Clerk, currently Democrat Michael J. Dalton, is the keeper of records for all Municipal Boards and Commissions; receives all correspondence for most Municipal Boards and Commissions; is the public service agency to allow access to records of all Municipal Boards and Commissions; and is the recipient of all claims and writs served on the City.

The City Clerk makes available copies of the City Charter, Operating Budget, Capital Budget, Three Year Financial Plan, Labor Contracts and other documents.

The City Clerk’s office is open Monday through Friday, 8:50 a.m. to 4:50 p.m.

What does a City Sheriff do?
The City Sheriff, currently Democrat Stephen M. Conway, is responsible for directing public speaking at meeting of the Board of Aldermen and other Municipal Boards when requested; serves violations for many city departments such as the Health Department, Building Department and City Planning; and serves expulsions for the Board of Education.

What does the Board of Aldermen do?
There are 15 aldermen for the City of Waterbury, elected in odd years. They are the legislative body of the City Government. No more than 9 members shall be of one political party.

The Board of Aldermen derive their authority from the City Charter and the Connecticut State Statutes. The Board of Aldermen can modify the city budget as submitted by the Mayor, have the power to investigate all departments, officers and employees; oversee and adopt legislation pertaining to the finances of the City; provide for public works; and other powers as detailed in the City Charter.

The Board of Aldermen meets the first Monday after the first and third Thursdays at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

What does the Board of Education do?
There are 10 Commissioners on the Board of Education, serving four-year terms. Their terms are staggered so that there are always some veteran members on the Board following each election. No more than 6 members shall be of one political party. Five members are elected every two years. No more than three candidates from each party can be on the ballot.

The Board of Education appoints and evaluates a Superintendent of Schools, determines the number of principals, assistants and teachers to be employed and their salaries, is responsible for the construction and repair of all school buildings, and submits an annual Operating and Capital Budget to the Mayor.

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