- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut poll workers will be better prepared for Tuesday’s hotly contested presidential election, thanks partly to recent state legislation, according to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

Merrill pointed out Wednesday how all registrars of voters and moderators must now receive training and certification. New emergency plans are also required for all polling places. Such changes, some of which were prompted by the 2014 election when some polling places opened late or had long wait times, have led to more standardization across the state, she said.

Besides the required new changes, Merrill said her office has also held more training sessions and conference calls with local elections officials so poll workers will know the rules for polling place behavior, considering the high level of interest in this year’s presidential match-up and concerns some have voiced about the potential for possible voter fraud.

“I think it’s made us all have to be on the same page in a way we haven’t had to worry about (before),” Merrill said.

Merrill joined the executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, the president of the Connecticut Bar Association and local elections officials to outline preparations for this year’s election, which is expected to attract large numbers of voters.

Typically, Connecticut has a 70 to 75 percent voter turnout in presidential elections. But given the record number of voter registrations, with more than 2.1 million on the rolls, Merrill said the percentage could be higher this year.

She stressed how elections in Connecticut are decentralized, with each of the state’s 169 cities and towns administering the elections. Merrill said none of the vote tabulating machines is connected to the internet and stressed how all submitted ballots leave a paper trail. Merrill also noted that post-election audits are conducted randomly in some precincts as another check on accuracy.

“It’s very extensive,” she said. “People don’t realize, I think, a lot of this. And this is the first time people have started asking all these questions. And I hope that people are convinced we do a lot of work. We’ve been doing elections for a long time in this country and it’s heavily regulated.”

In addition, the Connecticut Bar Association has arranged to have 110 trained, volunteer attorneys on hand in case legal issues arise Tuesday. A hotline will be set up for voters to call or they can email to report possible problems.

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