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Conflicting Statutes Slow Redistricting Committee

The six-member committee, made up of three RTM Republicans and three RTM Democrats, have received differing opinions on when they must enact the ordinance.

Conflicting Statutes Slow Redistricting Committee

As election season looms in Fairfield, the six members of the Redistricting Committee continue discussions on how to draw a new map for the town.

Republicans want to ; the Democrats .

"We were looking to move the body down to 40," RTM Majority Leader David Becker, R-1, said at a committee meeting last week. "We've had our difference on how to get there. Having the body go down is actually a good thing."

Kevin Hoffkins, D-7, said the committee needed to think of some ideas that make 10 districts something the GOP members want to work with.

"We looked at them and we feel they don't work," Kevin Hoffkins, D-7, said, referring to proposed eight- or nine-district maps.  "We feel very strongly there should be ten districts."

Suggestions of 10 districts with four representatives each and eight districts with five representatives have been presented, as well as preserving the 10 district, five representative model in place.

"There's really no difference between ten and four and eight and five," Joseph Palmer, R-4, said.

Before the committee decides on the number of districts and representatives, however, a question of conflicting state statutes must be resolved.

According to Connecticut General Statute (C.G.S.) Sec. 9-438, the RTM needed to enact a redistricting ordinance by July 13 in order to redistrict, and therefore change the polling places, by the Aug. 14 Primary. Polling places can't change, by statute, between the Primary and the general election in November.

This opinion was expressed to Republican Registrar Roger Autuori, Becker said, by Connecticut's Ted Bromley, an attorney at the Capitol.

Democratic Registrar Matt Waggner received a different opinion, which he brought before the committee at its meeting on Wednesday. Connecticut's Director of Elections Peggy Reeves said in an email to Waggner that, according to C.G.S. Sec. 9-169, the legislative body of the town can divide ore re-divide the town into voting districts. The registrars must assign polling places in those newly drawn districts no later 31 days before the November election, which means a new ordinance must be in place by Oct. 6.

The second opinion does not take into account the August primary. The committee is trying to figure out if that matters as far as their ordinance is concerned.

An attempt to reach the Director of Elections was made Monday by Becker and Hoffkins, but the call had not been returned by the committee's 5 p.m. meeting.

"They key question is does the statute that David [Becker] received mean that polling places cannot change after the primary election, even if redistricting happens?" Palmer said Monday.

Committee members are unsure of a few things, including whether the polling places will indeed change upon redistricting, depending on how district lines are drawn (the consensus is they will), and if such a change would fall under the extraordinary circumstances that allow registrars to petition a change in polling places between the two elections.

The committee will meet again Aug. 13 to discuss updates, the number of districts/representatives, and how the new district lines may be drawn.

"Our end goal is to buy more time to get done by November," Becker said. "We want to do that."

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