Monday, January 16, 2012

Wesleyan Democrats President Protests Giuliano Selection For Elections Commission

In the last municipal election, some Wesleyan students charged that there was an attempt to disenfranchise them by making it difficult to vote. The students placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Republican incumbent mayor, Sebastian Giuliano. The student paper, The Argus, reported that a student was considering filing a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission (the SEEC).
Last week, the SEEC selected Giuliano as its new executive director.

Ben Florscheim, president of the Wesleyan Democrats, co-wrote the following letter to the SEEC, protesting Giuliano's appointment.

Friday, January 13, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

We, as Wesleyan students and residents of the State of Connecticut who possess a legal right to vote in this jurisdiction, are extremely concerned by the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission’s pending appointment of Sebastian N. Giuliano as its executive director and general counsel. This concern stems from, but is not limited to, actions during his time as mayor of Middletown, which include the following:

•For decades prior to the November 2011 election, Wesleyan students registered to vote in Middletown using a campus PO box as their residency address. During his time as mayor, Mr. Giuliano did not question or object to this practice until faced with a close re-election campaign in 2011.
•This registration practice, which had been followed for decades, was suddenly questioned only after a large number of Wesleyan students registered to vote for the November 2011 election and had received confirmation of their registration from the registrar. Students had registered to vote in good faith following the practices that had been enforced by the registrar of voters for decades, including during Mr. Giuliano’s time in office.
•Less than two weeks before the election, there was a near rejection of almost 250 students’ voter registration applications. This happened despite the fact that the registrar had already accepted hundreds of other recent applications that included campus PO boxes as residency addresses.
•As a result of this sudden change in policy and practice, Wesleyan students witnessed the fracturing of their campus into five different voting districts in the last days before the elections.
•Hundreds of students whose voting location altered as a result of changes made by the registrars to their residential information were only notified the Friday before Election Day. This notification was limited to a misleading letter that had to be clarified by the Secretary of the State’s Office.
•During the supposed “suspension” of his campaign a few days before the election due to the October snowstorm, the former mayor was at the Wesleyan student center propagating misleading information to students about their eligibility to vote. He incorrectly stated that students who registered with a campus PO box and did not confirm their actual residency address in-person with the registrar could “come up empty” on Election Day.
•Perhaps most disturbing in light of his impending appointment, he squarely placed the blame of faulty registration practices on the students who registered in good faith and who followed the then applicable registration rules. This was done as opposed to holding registration and election officials responsible and accountable for doing their jobs properly.
•Mr. Giuliano repeatedly failed to demonstrate the type of leadership needed to ensure his constituents were provided accurate and information essential to their ability to exercise their right to vote. He also failed to publicly address the intimidating and misleading statements of Middletown police officer Tom Sebold and now-member of the Planning and Zoning Board, Molly Salafia. Both these individuals falsely claimed that Wesleyan students who registered to vote in Middletown would be subject to new taxes. Tom Sebold also seemed to threaten students with unwarranted legal consequences if they exercised their right to vote.
•As a result of the forgoing, a large number of students who registered in good faith and in accordance with historic registration and voting practices were led to believe they would be unable to vote in the November 2011 election.

Due to all of the above, it is extremely concerning to many students of Wesleyan University and arguably the entire State of Connecticut that Sebastian Giuliano has been selected for this position. If the SEEC’s mission is indeed to “ensure the integrity of the state’s electoral process,” we find it troublesome that it chose Mr. Giuliano as its senior official. He is a politician who stood for untimely changes in registration practices, lack of accountability towards officials who failed to properly do their job and inform voter applicants in a timely manner of errors in their registration forms, and the last minute fracturing of a group of his constituents.

Immediately after the November 2011 elections, numerous Wesleyan students had considered filing an official complaint with the SEEC against the mayor and other Middletown officials for their actions. Ultimately, they had decided not to do so in order to avoid any further conflicts. However, this recent appointment has caused many students to reconsider this decision, and a formal complaint is now being prepared.

The above concerns and complaints put forth are being raised not only for the benefit of Wesleyan students. They are being addressed for the benefit of all students in the state of Connecticut, who by law are eligible to vote in this state and should be able to do so without impediments, intimidation, or tolerance for misinformation from public servants and elected officials. Also, it goes without saying that this appointment is especially concerning when done on the eve of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the national holiday that celebrates civil rights – including voting rights.

If the SEEC truly stands by its mission, we strongly ask that its appointment of Sebastian N. Giuliano be reconsidered.


Gabriela De Golia and Benjamin Florsheim,
Concerned students of Wesleyan University and residents of Middletown, CT


Anonymous said...

Former Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano should not get this job. He does not have the ability to be objective in this position. He is a partisan Republican first and foremost. In the last mayoral election he ran a very negative campaign against the current Mayor Dan Drew. Fortunately, the voters did not buy into his negative campaign and he was defeated after 6 long years. In addition, he tried to deprive people of the right to vote-Wesleyan University Students. How can anybody in their right mind say a person or group of people cannot vote? This is not the 1800's! How can he be objective as the Executive Director of the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission with this in his history? If a case comes up and he has to make a decision anybody would just know he would rule in favor of the Republicans not the Democrats. Also, not to mention the fact the way he was elected Mayor in 2005. He allowed the Middletown Police Department to trap the current Mayor Dominique Thornton and arrest her on a phony charge of DUI.
After this incident Candidate Giuliano did not say one word about what the Middletown Police Dept did to the current Mayor. He did not disavow his ties to the Middletown Police Dept during this time as a candidate for Mayor. The charges against former Mayor Thornton were thrown out but the damage was done. Giuliano won the race in 2005 because of this.

Anonymous said...

Please take a look at the attorneys Seb hired while he was in office. Like they say follow the money trail and you will see why Seb was appointed to this position.

Anonymous said...

Salafia's letter did no such thing, your repeated public commentary falsely reinterpreting her letter to suit your own agenda is an attempt to create a tangible enemy to suit your ldramatized agenda. Sadly if you ever spoke to this young lady you would find she is very liberal if you must label and open minded like yourself and probably could have been quite a powerful resourceful ally to have in your corner. Sebold is a fine officer who stood up for his beliefs and just because he is a conservative and you a democrat you feel as if the same rights don't apply to him. Ben my boy, your continued harassment of her and Sebold is ridiculous and immature. Did you want Giuliano to publically spanked or something for exercising free speech? How about asking Mayor Drew to hold a press conference and strip them of free speech for hurting your feelings? For a lesson in the first amendment call Mr. Drew or see his fox clip. One could make the same argument that hiring a bus and purchasing pizza for Wesleyan by the local Dem's also swayed votes. Ben grow up, practice what you preach and get off campus once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Wesleyan Students are not residents of our town, they are visitors at best. When I attended college I did not expect to vote in local elections as I knew I was not there for the long term. Wesleyan students do not affect Middletown for the long term with very few exceptions. If the student body could learn to cross the streets properly, I would have more faith in their voting abilities. Swaying a prty vote by a few is not in the best interest of our town. Knowledge of the issues, long term, is far more crucial than putting one party or the other in place. I am quite sure that if Dan Drew was a Republican we would not be having this conversation.

Anonymous said...

I will expect the Eye will be posting the decision when the formal complaint is filed and a ruling made that the Registrar's Office acted properly in the handling of the voting rights of the Wesleyan Students.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:09

Explain how a minority candidate for mayor, with no official standing, "allowed" the PD to go after a sitting mayor.

If anyone marches to the party beat in Middletown, it's the Dems.

I do think Drew is turning out to be an exception. Time will tell.

As for the Wes students. Misguided, misinformed and out to make a name for themselves. They don't really give a shit about Middletown.

Anonymous said...

Unless these Wes kids pay taxes they should not be allowed into the voting booth. Like the rest of us taxpayers....put your money where your vote is.

Anonymous said...

Ed McKeon wrote a similar article asking Wesleyan students to think before voting and since he ran as a Democrat albeit separate from the local machine you haven't attacked him why not??
And even you Ben admitted in a letter that Sebold was partially correct. Let's see if Dan Drew defends a republican from public ridicule.

Anonymous said...

They both claimed they *could be subject. Just like you used the term *seemed Ben.

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Ed McKeon is a scoundrel. Watch out.

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that Gabriela De Golia and Benjamin Florsheim are officers of the Wesleyan College Democrats and do not represent all of the students as they would have one believe.

Anonymous said...

Ed, you should not have time to write snippy comments here. Spend your time cleaning up the mess with the Middletown schools and the 'scream rooms'. If more time was spent dealing with this issue correctly, Middletown would not be in the embarassing situation it finds itself today.

John Brush said...

Let's try to clear the air here...

Assertion by WES Dems: a large number of students who registered in good faith and in accordance with historic registration and voting practices were led to believe they would be unable to vote in the November 2011 election.

The Reality: Good faith and historic practices do no trump election law. Any student could easily have determined that CT law requires a prospective voter to establish residence in the jurisdiction with evidence of a physical domicile therein; i.e. an actual building, not a P.O. box.

Assertion by WES DEMS: ...these individuals (Sebold and Salfia) falsely claimed that Wesleyan students who registered to vote in Middletown would be subject to new taxes...

The Reality: Motor Vehicles are subject to a local property tax under Connecticut state law. This applies whether or not the vehicle is registered. The local property tax is computed and issued by your local tax collector...A tax jurisdiction is considered to be your town of residence.

Assetion by WES DEMS: ...He (Giuliano) is a politician who stood for untimely changes in registration practices,..

The Reality: The untimeliness here was on the part of students who heeded the call to defeat Republicans by rushing en masse to register to vote, and establish resicency, at the last hour...

Assetion by WES DEMS: is extremely concerning to many students of Wesleyan University and arguably the entire State of Connecticut that Sebastian Giuliano has been selected for this position....

The Reality: There is no evidence that "the entire State of Connecticut" is extremely concerned by the appointment of Giuiliano to his new post.

Anthony R. Lancia, Jr. said...

As a Veteran and Resident of the City of Middletown I feel that it is an afforded benefit to the students who are temporary residents of the city to be able to vote in local elections.

While in the military I was allowed to cast and absentee ballot back home and never allowed to vote in the local elections of the place I was stationed.

The right to vote in a local election that has a long term affect on the permanent residents in way of taxes and other lasting financial burdens is unfair to those who have made Middletown their home.

An example of this is past Mayor Paul Gionfriddo who under his direction afforded by Wesleyan University students dealt with the University students takeover of the admissions office, a flag-burning incident and widespread publicity over parties involving drugs.


Without pointing the finger of blame and shunning the liberal mindset that the Constitution provides all of us, the RIGHT TO VOTE is actually a privelage not a right at all, you see that RIGHT can be revoked.

The right to Vote within a local community as a guest does not meet the Constitutional Privelage it was meant to be. With that said it is evident that I am strongly against Wesleyan students enjoying the privelage to vote in local politics that can have a lasting affect on our community just for the right of a liberal movement and not for the best interest of the community in mind.

Anonymous said...

Giuliano extended the time in which Wesleyan student could go and fix their registrations to afford them more time to participate and do so legally. He is quoted many times in the media as saying he wanted student participation in the community and if they felt so inclined, voting as well. If anything he legally used the rules to promote student voting!!!

McKeon, Devoto, Giuliano,and Salafia simply asked that that students research the issues, none said do not vote.

William Wilson said...

Ben your attack on Molly shows you to be the bully that you are. I wonder if some of your allegations are not slanderous. As you continue to take a young women's name though the mud on something that is untrue.

The appointment of Seb Giuliano being opposed by the head of the Democrats at Wesleyan is to be expected. It is the same argument I read in the paper by two state reps who are democrats. Of course they had a democrat they thought would serve better. I am guessing you feel the same way. Again what a shock.
At least we know where you get your talking points from Ben.

Ken McClellan said...

You need to blame the individual responsible for the mix-up: the Democrat Registrar of Voters, who failed in the duty to ensure that individuals registering to vote are legal residents of the polity in which they are attempting to register. Calling attention to the failure is not bad, partisan or dirty politics. Requiring individuals to follow the law is the duty of elected officials. Mayor Guiliano and the Republican Registrar did their jobs, ensuring that individuals registering to vote are legal residents. When I registered I was required to provide proof of residency. Why should college students be different. Complaining that you were deprived of your rights, when you were actually in violation of election law, is naive. If the majority of those trying to register and vote without proving residency are doing so, in order to support on party or candidate, then their actions are partisan and dirty politics, in addition to being illegal.

Anonymous said...

What if a candidate were to run on an anti-Wesleyan platform, or were to engage in anti-Wesleyan demagoguery in the campaign? Should Wesleyan students be barred from voting in that instance simply because they're from someplace else?

And what about people who don't pay taxes? Should they be barred from voting?

How does someone qualify as a "permanent resident"?

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Anon 12:37

Right. I haven't been doing a blessed thing. I'll get right on it. I'll leave the snippy comments to you.

I usually don't have a problem doing a few different things in the same day. Do you?

Anonymous said...

It does seem rather ironic that someone who sought to disenfranchise voters is now in charge of the hen house.

As for Ed, more is expected from an elected official than smart alec remarks; please rise to the occasion.

Tree Fanatic said...

The question of whether or not college students can vote in elections held in their place of student residence is being debated all over the country, along with lots of other questions about voter identification. Clearly, many constituencies may be disenfranchised in some of these politically-motivated movements. Elderly citizens who have no drivers' licenses are often targeted, whether purposely or not. An interesting article on the last election in Texas is in a recent Huffington Post:

Anonymous said...

Dear Ben, WHY don't the college Dem at Wesleyan care about the issues at Farm Hill??? Amble opportunity for them to be involved in Middletown.

Anonymous said...

Falsely accusing someone of voter suppression for stating possible ramifications of changing of a permanent address is slanderous. Typical permitted public persecution of someone who does not fit the Democrats agenda and no one is saying anything because we allow this discrimination to happen in Middletown daily as long as it is being committed by the liberals.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that there seems to be such a strong feeling that Wesleyan students ought not be allowed to vote because they are not permanent residents of Middletown. That seems a pretty slippery slope.

How *will* the right to vote be determined? How about students who live at home in Middletown and attend Middlesex Community College? Should they be able to vote? Even those who are hoping to move on to a four-year college not in Middletown, and hence hoping to leave in the near future? How about new residents? How do we know that they are planning to be in town for some ill-defined notion of long-term? Shall we impose an "intent to live in Middletown for a long time" requirement for voting?

I've lived in Middletown for about 10 years now, and paid taxes either through my rent or my real estate tax bill every year. Is that long enough for me to be allowed to vote? Does the fact that I'm looking for a new house and might move to a neighboring community mean that I shouldn't have the right to vote because I might not be a resident next year or the year after that?

I understand the desire that voters be well-educated and invested in the issues. I suspect there are Wesleyan students who meet that criteria better than many non-student residents, just as I know that the reverse holds as well. Perhaps (call me crazy) the right response is not to disenfranchise a (relatively small) group of voters, but encourage them to be more involved in the community.

- Norman Danner

Anonymous said...

Why is Wesleyan getting involved with this issue of Giuliano's appt. i believe the students were instigated by the local leaders of the Middletown democrats, i.e. and namely, Lisa Santangelo the town chairman and her gang, SERRAS, DAN DREW. They've been getting away with a lot of hanky panky, doing things that were not legit and Seb knows this so------how can they play the crooked game during campaigns and elections if Seb will be watching them. Its time the citizens know what truly goes on behind closed doors that they are not aware of. All the best to Seb.

William Wilson said...

@Tree Fanatic As someone who is a moderator at the Senior Center here in Middletown for most election. I can tell you that your statement about seniors being denied their right to vote is wrong at least here.
We ask for picture ID, but if they have no ID we have accepted bills in their name and address for forms of ID. If they don't have that then we ask them to sign a form that states they are who they claim they are. Then they get a ballot and vote.

Anonymous said...

Republicans are idiots pure & simple!

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Anon 4:22

Alas, I didn't realize you were the arbiter of what's expected from elected officials.

You must be disappointed often.

BTW, your name is...?

conshr said...

I only have a problem with the way the students got to the polls and that they did not need to provide any id except their own college ID card. When I voted, I was not asked to provide my verification of ID; I did report the process to the person in charge at Farmhill.

conshr said...

it's quite sad to see such ignorace within these comments. to make such a generalized statement that "all republicans are idiots" is truly sad. do we not live in a country that thrives on differences? go back to your hole.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anthony R. Lancia, Jr. comments that "the RIGHT TO VOTE is actually a privilege not a right at all," is wrong. Voting is a right not a privilege. According to the U.S. Constitution Article XV "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." I hope this put the idea to rest that voting is a right and not a privilege. Thank-You for letting me say this.

Anonymous said...

Salafia, Sebold, & Giuliano never NEVER once stated they did not want Wesleyan students to vote. NEVER. Lies. The Wesleyan students going around spreading this lie and the Town Democrats allowing it to happen owe the three an apology. Any comments defending these people are deleted from the Press as well.

Anonymous said...

"Concerned students of Wesleyan University and residents of Middletown, CT" as residents of Middletown as you claim; how many of you pay taxes to the city of Middletown?

By definition many of you are residents of Middletown but you do not claim Middletown as your domicile. See the legal definition below.

Although the domicile and residence of a person are usually in the same place, and the two terms are frequently used as if they have the same meaning, they are not synonymous. A person can have two places of residence, such as one in the city and one in the country, but only one domicile. Residence means living in a particular locality, but domicile means living in that locality with the intent to make it a fixed and permanent home. Residence merely requires bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place, whereas domicile requires bodily presence in that place and also an intention to make it one's permanent home.

This distinction is relevant for members of the military, who may move frequently during the course of a typical career; college students, whose state of domicile may affect whether they are eligible for scholarships and grants from a state university; and retired individuals, whose domicile will determine where they pay taxes. Domicile determines where a person votes and where a person's driver's license is issued.

So, to the Wesleyan students stop grinding your ax against the former Mayor.

Anonymous said...

SEEC postpones action on Giuliano appointment

Anonymous said...

The Hartford Courant wrote a story involving State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney and his take on the Giuliano's appointment controversy. Click on the link below.,0,259240.story

Anonymous said...

In the election before this past one, violation of the 75 ft mandatory perimeter for campaign workers was brought to the mayor's attention. The violation was repeated this past election. It's a simple thing to fix. Ask him.

Anonymous said...

The article in the Hartford Courant basically had State Senator John McKinney defending former Mayor Sebastian Giuliano for his appointment to the post of Executive Director of the State Elections Commission. What a surprise?! Two fellow Republicans supporting one another. It's like the old saying you scratch my back I will scratch yours. Didn't Senator McKinney come to Middletown last fall to campaign for former Mayor Giuliano? I am pretty sure he did because I remember seeing him on one of the Comcast Public Access Shows. Giuliano does not deserve this post despite what the State Republican Leaders say.

Anonymous said...

An editorial in today's Hartford Courant called for the appointment of Giuliano to be rescinded.

Too bad there has been no coverage in the Eye of the SEEC postponing the appointment amid the controversy.