The Day – Republican registrar of Montville criticized for his social media posts

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Montville – Republican Registrar Jeff Rogers is facing criticism from Democrats who say his recent Facebook page posts are unsuitable for the Registrar position.

On September 15, Rogers shared a letter from Connecticut GOP President Ben Proto. Rogers’ message begins with: “PLEASE SHARE WITH EVERYBODY … DEMOCRATS ARE FOCUSING A CIVIL WAR !! The remainder of the letter criticized Governor Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 policies, comparing them at one point to the actions of a dictator.

Two other Rogers Facebook posts, one on August 11 and the other on August 15, were labeled “false information” or “partially false” by independent fact-checkers. Both articles advocated unverified theories related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Montville City Council and Democratic City Committee Chairman Tim May said of Rogers: “When he quotes a guy about civil war, conflict, retaliation and retaliation and he echoes the lies of (former President Donald) Trump, this is just not good. “

“Every registrar I’ve worked with, their job is to make sure people register to vote fairly and that the voter registration list is accurate. That’s it, ”May said. “There is no campaign to encourage those you consider good or bad. Their job is to ensure accuracy and fairness. The letter I saw does not seem to really reflect this. I think he got into this job trying to make it something that he’s not.

Rogers pushed back against criticism, saying he wears different hats both as the Voter’s Clerk and also as the central state representative for the 20th Senate District.

“I believe in freedom of expression. Saying under that hat you can say that and under that one you can’t, it looks like we’re trying to take away free speech, ”Rogers said, noting that he had not made any comments reflecting a election, election law or candidates. “What, am I not supposed to talk about rainbows and lollipops because I’m a political figure?” I might like rainbows and lollipops. Am I not allowed because I am in a position where I cannot express my opinion? “

Rogers said he believed the role of Registrar to be a non-partisan position only in the aspect of performing the duties of a Registrar, but otherwise, “The position is extremely partisan. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a Democratic and Republican clerk.

In 2020, Rogers’ race for Republican Registrar of Voters led to a controversial primary between him and then-Republican Registrar Dana McFee.

McFee and others said at the time that Rogers was too partisan to be a registrar, a position that requires impartial election arbitration. McFee added that he works closely with Democratic Registrar Robin Marquand.

“If you’re a Republican and you hate Democrats, or vice versa, you’re not going to work well in a registry office, and the place turns into a mess,” McFee said.

In a letter published in The Day, McFee wrote that “Rogers’ abrasive nature and inability to act in a non-political and non-partisan (manner) manner would negatively impact the integrity of this office, which is so important for the holding of effective and fair elections “.

Rogers told The Day that he “absolutely” viewed the role of registrar as a way to help the Republican Party.

“The most important part is getting people to register to vote,” he said at the time.

Marquand said Thursday that she had worked well with Rogers. She did not comment on the posts of her counterpart in particular except to say: “I do not do anything political on my personal social media page because I have always understood that this is a position no. partisan. “

“We’ve had a really good working relationship over the past 10 months,” she said of Rogers. “There was no argument, no problem, no problem, it was very pleasant to work with him. He is a hard worker. He is very into the job. We have a very good working relationship.

Rogers echoed Marquand, saying so far: “Everything is going fantastically well. I have a great counterpart, everything is working wonderfully.

But before being elected, Marquand called some of the promises and statements Rogers made “very misleading to the public” and corrected it on social media. At the time, Rogers said he would work with Social Services, Seniors Services and the City Clerk to provide “intake forms” for permanently disabled people.

“What is an admission form? I have never heard of such a thing. Do you mean requests from absent voters? Asked Marquand. “In fact, here at the office of the registrar of electors, we do not process requests for absence, regular or permanent… the work belongs to the city clerk. “

“You also state that by participating in the administration of the postal vote, you will ensure that there is no electoral fraud, particularly if postal ballots are instituted,” wrote Marquand. “Sir, postal ballots (absenteeism ballots) are still used at every election in the state of CT. “

Spokesman for Secretary of State Gabe Rosenberg made a general statement on the controversy in Montville.

“One of the main goals of our office since 2016, but particularly ahead of the 2020 elections, has been to tackle election misinformation on social media,” he said on Thursday. “For the most part, our partners are the local registrars of voters from both parties in the 169 towns of Connecticut. “

Rogers has said he will not change his social media presence, but has changed some of his conduct to suit his new role. For example, he now avoids commenting on local issues.

“I don’t care what Facebook does or does not mark,” he said of his posts that Facebook described as disinformation. “It’s a shared point of view. If people don’t agree with me, it’s their right to do so. I’m not looking for their validation.

McFee said Thursday that he felt his prediction of how Rogers would handle his new position had come true.

“If your clerk spits out that kind of nonsense, from a Democratic point of view I would suspect he could do something in this office that would have an effect on the municipal elections, which we have ahead,” McFee said. about Rogers. civil war ”, which the Republican municipal committee of Montville then republished.

“You are there as an official to help the elections run smoothly, to give information, and if it is biased one way or the other, you lose your credibility,” McFee continued.

McFee said the last thing he did before stepping down was to change his party affiliation to “unaffiliated”.

“It’s not necessarily because of the registrar role, it’s more because of the Big Lie and then Jan. 6,” he said. “If I had won and I was still the clerk after January 6, I don’t know if I could have remained a Republican under these circumstances. For me, it was an embarrassment. And so many Republicans still believe it. Montville Republicans lean that way.

Montville Republican Committee Chairman Thomas McNally did not respond to a request for comment.

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