Wednesday was the deadline for people who want to petition their way onto the November gubernatorial ballot to submit their petition signatures to the state. Jonathan Pelto was one of them.
Pelto needed 7,500 signatures of registered voters to get on the ballot. He said he got between 8,000 and 9,000 signatures, just to be safe. Another candidate, Joe Visconti, said he has more. Pelto, who used to serve as a state legislator from Mansfield, said his team collected signatures from more than 140 of the state's 169 towns.
"I had never participated in a petitioning process and it was a real eye-opener both about how much work it was and the barriers that are put in place to make that difficult," Pelto said in an interview.
First, getting the right number of signatures is hard -- as it should be, Pelto said -- but then there's the bureaucracy of doing it in a state with so many different municipalities.
"Every town has to be on a different page," Pelto said. "If you're at a country fair, for example, and there are people from 60 or 70 different towns, you have to have 60 or 70 different sheets of paper, and you have to be making sure that they write that name on the correct sheet."
Then, once you submit the petitions to the state, the signatures go out to the town clerks and voter registrars all across Connecticut to be verified. That can get tricky. For instance, on Thursday, someone who signed his petition told Pelto she was contacted by her town clerk to make sure that she, and others in her house, had actually signed it.
"Nothing wrong with that, except that I've never heard of something like that happening before," Pelto said. "This is a highly political situation. We're challenging an incumbent governor who is thin-skinned and tends to be very reactive. I don't know whether that has anything to do with it."
Finally, I asked Pelto what he heard the most from people as he was collecting those signatures.
"There are lots more people than I think politicians realize who believe that there should be third parties, or other voices. That was by far the most powerful message," he said. "There were some people who signed because they supported me. There were some people who signed because they thought that it would take votes away from Dan Malloy."
Pelto said he'll learn whether he's on the ballot in a couple weeks.