New registrar jumps into busy season
In April, the town of Wilton said goodbye to Carole Young-Kleinfeld and welcomed Karen Birck as its new Democratic registrar of voters. She is no stranger to the voting process.
Birck, a 27-year resident of Wilton, said she has had a relationship with the Wilton registrars of voters office since being hired as a poll worker in 1996.
“Over the past two decades,” she said, “I have taken on election-related positions with increasing responsibility.”
In 2010, Birck was certified as an election moderator, qualifying her to be in charge of polling places. “I was the moderator at the Wilton Fieldhouse polling place for both the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections,” she said.
Birck went on to serve as one of Young-Kleinfeld’s assistant registrars in 2016 and became a deputy registrar of voters about a year ago. In these roles, she said, she attended “a number of training workshops.”
As Wilton’s new Democratic registrar, Birck said, she is “filling the remainder of the term Carole was elected to in 2016.”
“Under Connecticut General Statutes (Section 9-192), the deputy registrar of voters becomes the registrar of voters in the event of the ‘death, removal or resignation’ of the registrar of voters,” she explained.
Birck said she has “always been interested” in government and the electoral process, “so when the opportunity to fill the remainder of Carole’s term presented itself, becoming the Democratic registrar of voters was the next logical step for me.”
If she wants to continue as registrar beyond Young-Kleinfeld’s term, Birck said, she will have to seek the nomination from the Democratic Town Committee and run on the November 2020 ballot.
Since being sworn in and starting her new role on April 9, Birck said, things have been “very busy” in the registrars’ office.
This year, the registrars were charged with planning and executing three votes, said Birck: The Annual Town Meeting in May with voting continued on Saturday, the primaries on Aug. 14, and the general election on Nov. 6.
“I came on board less than a month before the Annual Town Meeting, so I had to hit the floor running. Fortunately, as an assistant and deputy registrar, I’d become familiar with the general operation of the office, the statewide voter registration system and the specialized software that Connecticut registrars of voters use,” she said.
“What’s different for me is moving from being the registrars’ ‘boots on the ground at the polling place,’ so to speak, to being the person in the office doing the planning so that the polling place runs smoothly.”
Birck said an “incredible amount of detailed planning” is needed for this to happen.
“There are statutory deadlines to be met, ballots to be ordered and tested, forms to be filed with the secretary of the state, polling places to be reserved, equipment to be ordered and tested, poll workers to be hired and trained, [and so on],” she said.
As registrar, Birck said, her goal is to “make the process of registering to vote and voting as transparent and easy as possible for qualified voters.”
Birck is no stranger to community involvement. From serving on the board of directors for Stay at Home Wilton and Woodcock Nature Center to co-chairing the Miller-Driscoll Renovation Building Committee and serving on the Wilton Board of Education and Wilton Energy Commission, Birck has been very active in the Wilton community.
She has also been a member of the Wilton Encore Club, Wilton Woman’s Club, Wilton Go Green and the Wilton League of Women Voters, and was co-recipient of the 2016 Wilton Distinguished Citizen Award.