By Laura Hayden
When Scott Nolan was appointed to the position of Windsor Locks Town Clerk in July – replacing William Hamel who was retiring after a 28- year term in the office – Scott was about to take on clerking the most challenging presidential election ever faced.
“No town clerk has ever experienced what we are experiencing now,” said Scott. He was referring to the election duties of a town clerk office to issue absentee ballot applications, direct preparation of the absentee ballots, and maintain permanent absentee ballot records. Because the state has granted every voter the option to vote by absentee ballot this year – an unprecedented invitation due to COVID-19 – over 2 million applications to request an absentee ballot were mailed to every voter in Connecticut in September.
Eighty-five-thousand of those applications went to Windsor Locks voters. “Usually we might prepare 200 to 300 envelopes,” said Scott. “This year we ordered 10,000.” He expects four to five thousand applications to be returned to the Town Clerk’s office– each of which requires two envelopes in response. One mails the absentee ballot to the recipient and the other is an enclosed return envelope the recipient uses to send the official absentee ballot back. As of September 24, 1100 absentee ballots had already been requested by town voters.
According to Scott, who has previously served as assistant town clerk, “The Connecticut voter system has made significant changes to speed the procedure up.”
“We’re moving it along,” said Scott, adding that the whole process “might go really well,” thanks to the hiring of two additional temporary workers, student volunteers, and extra working hours over the weekends until election time. “Bill has been helpful too,” Scott said, referring to retired Town Clerk William Hamel.
No member of the Town Clerk Office ever handles an actual ballot. Their job is to prepare the absentee ballot envelopes with mailing labels.
Scott stressed how important it is for those who wish to vote by absentee ballot to return their request for an absentee ballot as soon as possible, preferably using ballot collection boxes located near town halls or by mail. “It’s going to be particularly challenging the week before the election and the week of the election.”
Scott Nolan, the newly appointed Windsor Locks Town Clerk, holds an envelope being prepared to send an absentee ballot for this year’s election to a Windsor Locks voter. Standing beside him is volunteer Lexi Ratti.