Secretary Of The State: Registrar Can't Cancel Primary
By JENNA CARLESSO
March 08, 2012
HARTFORD —— The Republican registrar of voters can't cancel the city's Republican presidential primary in April, a spokesman for the secretary of the state's office said Thursday.
Salvatore Bramante, the Republican registrar, had said Wednesday that the city might not be able to hold the April 24 primary because of a lack of money. Bramante had called a press conference for Thursday afternoon at city hall to discuss the matter, but canceled it late Wednesday.
Bramante could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Under state law, registrars cannot cancel a primary, said Av Harris, a spokesman for the secretary of the state's office.
"There are a few options if the registrar doesn't feel like he is going to be adequately staffed or meet his legal requirements of five poll workers per precinct," Harris said. "He can seek an injunction in court, but he can't, under state law, call it off."
Bramante had said in a written statement that "by the time that a court could become involved, it will be too late to prepare materials for a primary." But Harris said Thursday that Bramante still has time to take legal action.
"We're over a month away from the primary. If he wants to seek legal relief in court he does have the time to do it," Harris said.
But he added: "It probably would be better for everybody if they were to work something out with the city."
Michael Fryar, a city Republican who was helping coordinate Bramante's press conference, said Thursday that the financial situation hasn't changed.
"He doesn't have enough money," Fryar said. "The last statement I got from him was that he couldn't hold the primary for less than the amount budgeted. At no point did he say there was an agreement or that he has enough money now."
The city council on Feb. 27 allocated $120,000 to the registrars' office to be used for primaries. That money was to be split, with the Democratic registrar getting about $66,000 and the Republican registrar receiving about $54,000.
Bramante has said there wouldn't be enough cash left after Tuesday's Democratic Town Committee election for the Republicans' April primary.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city 18 to 1; there are currently 1,824 registered Republicans in the city, according to the secretary of the state's office.
City Council President Shawn Wooden said that he and Mayor Pedro Segarra reviewed state laws and created a budget for both registrars based on minimum staffing requirements. That amount was less than what the registrars originally requested, he said.
"I'm pleased that the Republican registrar of voters has backed down from his threat to cancel the Republican presidential primary," Wooden said in a statement Thursday. "The council acted quickly and responsibly, and worked hard to protect the taxpayers of our city."
David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer, said Thursday that city officials had not allocated more money to the registrars' office.
"Given the concerns of the Republican registrar, we're monitoring the costs of the Democratic Town Committee election and making sure the council allocation is being followed," he said. "We've got no information that the [$54,000] allocated for the Republican primary won't be available."
Panagore said he has requested staffing and expense information from the Democratic registrar of voters regarding Tuesday's town committee election. The Democratic registrar, Olga Vazquez, has agreed to submit the information early next week, he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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