With So Few Voting, Hartford Primaries Are Squeakers
Hartford Districts After the recounts, speculation about turnout and "losing touch"
Hartford Courant editorials
August 19, 2010
Seldom has the maxim "every vote counts" had more relevance than in the primary elections Aug. 10 for the Democratic nomination for state House seats in Hartford's 1st and 4th Districts.
After mandatory recounts, city councilman Matthew Ritter, the party's endorsed candidate, apparently topped incumbent state Rep.Kenneth Green by a mere two votes out of 2,304 cast in the 1st District. Two-term Rep. Kelvin Roldan held on to defeat challenger Angel Morales by only five votes in the 4th District, where a total of just 759 people voted.
The voter turnout was a crying shame, especially in the 4th District. Mr. Ritter and Mr. Roldan are almost guaranteed to claim those legislative seats in November, considering the overwhelming advantage Democrats have in voter registration throughout Hartford.
But do the meager vote totals — admittedly better in the 1st than in the 4th — accurately reflect the sentiment of the districts' Democratic voters? More robust turnouts would yield more authoritative answers.
Hartford is the permanent host of state government, with all the good and ill that status carries. In turn, Hartford is the annual recipient of a huge amount of state money. Residents of the capital city should want the most capable legislative delegation they can field to negotiate on the city's behalf.
But too many Hartford residents — as measured by voter turnout — seem not to care. That's one reason the quality of Hartford's representation has been uneven over the years.
The small band of voters who did turn out on Aug. 10 seemed to want to send a message, however. Elections this close are a rarity. Incumbents seldom get kicked out of office — or come this close to it, in Mr. Roldan's case.
Despite Mr. Roldan's insistence that he's plugged into the district, he nearly was defeated for the Democratic nomination by an unemployed convicted felon. Mr. Green, a 16-year incumbent, was turned out by a first-time legislative candidate, although one with a well-known political name in Hartford.
The bottom line is that Hartford is not well served if too many of its residents tune out politics and government.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at