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Hartford Registrars: No Funds For November Election

Say $180,000 Budget Cut Must Be Restored

By JENNA CARLESSO

September 06, 2012

HARTFORD The city's registrar of voters office said it does not have enough money to run the November general election.

Salvatore Bramante, the Republican registrar of voters, sent an e-mail to Urania Petit, the Working Families Party registrar, on Wednesday saying there are "no funds available" to run the election.

Bramante said the issue stems from the $180,000 the city council cut from the registrar of voters office during the last budget cycle in May. Mayor Pedro Segarra's recommended 2012-13 budget would have allocated $763,909 for the registrars' office. The adopted budget, which includes the reduction, allocates $583,909.

"As far as my knowledge and experience [goes] in reviewing the council approved FY 2012-13 budget (without the $180,000), there are no funds available ... to execute the upcoming November 6, 2012 general/presidential election," Bramante wrote in the e-mail.

He and Petit could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Olga Vazquez, the city's Democratic registrar of voters, echoed Bramante's concerns Thursday, saying officials from the office are planning to ask the city council to restore the $180,000 it had cut.

"We will do what we need to do, and in this case that's going to the city council," Vazquez said. "We've been through so many loops, we don't know what to expect from them. We understand that the city is in a tough [financial] situation, but this is a matter of conducting our duties by state and federal law.

"This is one election we cannot afford to play with. It's the presidential election, and we expect a greater turnout."

She said officials from the registrars' office would probably submit a request for funding before the council's second scheduled meeting in September.

Councilman Alexander Aponte, the panel's majority leader, said Thursday that as long as the request is justified, the council would consider it.

"We understand elections have to take place," he said. "We also understand that they have to operate within certain financial parameters. We do whatever needs to be done within reason."

But Councilman Kenneth Kennedy called the potential request "troublesome."

"Our budget is very tight. There's not a couple hundred thousand dollars lying around that can be transferred willy nilly," Kennedy said. "There would have to be something shown of extraordinary circumstance for us to revisit that decision."

Kennedy noted that the council last spring had considered cutting the registrars' budget by even more money.

"The cuts that we gave to the registrar of voters office are cuts we thought the office could live with," he said.

This is the second time in a year Bramante has said that the city may not be able to run an election because of a shortage of funds.

In March, he said the Democrat-controlled city council hadn't given him enough money to hold the Republican presidential primary. Bramante said at the time that there wouldn't be enough cash left after the city held its Democratic town committee election for him to run the Republican primary. It was later determined that the Democratic primary came in under budget.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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