State Elections Enforcement Commission
At a Glance
WILLIAM R. SOKOLOWSKI, Chairman
Stephen F. Cashman, Vice Chairman
Jeffrey B. Garfield, Executive Director & General Counsel
Albert P. Lenge, Managing Director & Commission Attorney
Gregory Zepka, Director of Disclosure & Public Information
Established – 1974
Statutory authority – CGS Sections 9-7A, 9-7B
Central office – 20 Trinity Street, Suite 101,
Hartford, CT 06106
Number of employees – 11
Recurring operating expenses - $785,596
To improve and maintain the confidence of the people of Connecticut in the electoral process and the officials involved in that process.
To enforce provisions of state election laws pertaining to elections, primaries and referenda. The Commission is charged with the specific responsibility to conduct investigations of election complaints, review campaign finance statements filed by candidates, political parties and political committees, issue advisory opinions concerning requirements of the campaign finance laws and suggest revisions to the election laws to the Connecticut General Assembly.
and Enforcement. The Commission
completed investigations of 193 complaints (cases), including referrals from
the Secretary of the State. The
Commission’s turnover time for resolving cases averaged 79 days, 27 days more
than last fiscal year. Enforcement
efforts continued to be strong, yet reasonable. The Commission collected $108,215 in civil penalties and
forfeitures for violations of election laws, which were deposited in the
State’s General Fund.
Audits. During the year the two Commission audit staff completed a compliance review of campaign financing of the 2001 municipal campaigns, and reviewed each report filed every committee in 1/3 of the towns. A comprehensive report was issued. In addition, the staff made significant progress towards completion of a compliance review of the 2002 campaign financing of General Assembly campaigns.
Absentee Voting Reform Pilot Program. Pursuant to Public Act 03-227, the Commission implemented a pilot program in three municipalities to improve procedures for absentee voting to protect against fraud and abuse. The towns of West Haven, Winsted and Kent volunteered to participate. The Commission staff worked cooperatively with the election officials in those towns, and conducted meetings with an established advisory committee to implement details for the program. Surveys were taken after the election to evaluate the success of the program, and a lengthy evaluation report was prepared by the Commission and published it on its website.
Legislative efforts. The Commission submitted various proposals for revising election laws to the General Assembly during the regular session in 2004. Based upon the overwhelmingly positive evaluation of the absentee voting pilot program, the Commission recommended that the 2004 General Assembly enact these procedures into law. The absentee voting reform bill was approved by the GAE Committee, but not by the Appropriations Committee. The Commission also recommended a variety of changes to the campaign finance laws that were enacted in PA 04-91. Those included the strengthening of ban on personal use of campaign funds and establishing more accountability for credit card usage by candidates and committees. Legislation to reform the laws regulating PAC and lobbyist contributions was also a Commission priority, but these measures were not approved. The Commission sought legislation to be designated as the forum for determination of complaints filed under the federal legislation entitled “Help America Vote Act of 2002”. This was enacted in PA 04-74. The Commission also provided input and assistance on a variety of other election-related legislation during the 2004 session.
Pilot Program for Use of Electronic Voting Machines. Pursuant to PA 03-07, the Commission completed a survey of the election officials reactions to the use of electronic voting machines in the eight pilot towns selected by the Secretary of the State. The Commission collaborated with the Secretary of the state to produce the report required to be submitted to the General Assembly that evaluated the pilot program.
Public Information and Education. Staff revised agency publications explaining campaign finance requirements for municipal candidates, political action committees and referenda, and these were distributed and published on its website. Staff conducted many workshops and seminars for campaign treasurers, candidates and groups involved in the campaign financing of political campaigns.
· To resolve complaints swiftly and reduce need for full administrative hearings
· To promulgate regulations establishing an expedited review procedure for complaints filed under the federal Help America Vote of 2002.
· To complete a compliance review of 50 percent of the 2002 campaigns for the General Assembly Candidates, review 1/3 of the 2003 municipal campaigns for compliance with campaign finance laws, and to make significant progress towards completion of a review of the 2004 campaigns for the General Assembly.
· To reduce and prevent violations through enhanced training and educational efforts
· To suggest revisions to the General Assembly concerning election laws which strengthen accountability in the election process and improve the public’s confidence in elected officials
· To improve the website to provide the public with access to case decisions and opinions
· To continue to respond swiftly to the need for legal advice and written opinions concerning compliance and ensure that the response time to requests for written opinions is no more than seven working days.
Information Reported as Required by State Statute
The Commission has developed an affirmative action plan which complies with the Connecticut General Statutes Sections 46a-70 through 46a-78.
Pursuant to §9-7a (c), the Commission is required to provide the following information concerning its activities.
Of the 193 investigations completed during this fiscal year, the following municipalities had more than one complaint:
Bethel, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Easton, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, New Milford, Oxford, Redding, South Windsor, Stratford, Vernon, West Haven, West Hartford, Westbrook, Willimantic
Of the 193 closed cases completed, 129 resulted in monetary penal sanctions (fines or forfeitures), 11 resulted in reprimands or orders to comply, 35 were dismissed, 17 were not pursued to a conclusion and one was referred to Chief State’s Attorney. Seventeen additional complaints remained open at the close of the fiscal year.