Considering Hartford's rocky fiscal condition, city officials have no choice but to economize anywhere savings can be found. That includes the wasteful, hydra-headed registrar of voters' office, which must be reformed and streamlined and cut down to proper size.
Hartford can't afford to keep this gilded monument to old-fashioned patronage.
Imagine: Less than 60 days before the Nov. 6 general/presidential vote, the city's registrars say they don't have enough money to run the election. They plan to petition the city council to restore $180,000 that was cut from the registrars' budget by the council this past spring.
The registrars ginning up this fiscal crisis so close to the election is a low-rent trick.
The election must be held, of course, and the registrars must try harder to find the money in their stash to pay for it. At the same time, Hartford must quick-step down the path of reforming this bureaucratic colossus.
There are three registrars: a Democratic registrar and staff, a Republican registrar and staff, and a Working Families Party registrar and staff. When the Working Families registrar position was created, there were fewer members of that party registered to vote than there are members of a baseball team.
Requiring a registrar for such a party is a needless waste. Hartford is broke. Mayor Pedro Segarra recently announced an additional 12 layoffs at a time when the city's non-school, non-public safety, non-registrar payroll is down to bare bones.
Hartford needs only one registrar. It should be a nonpartisan, professional, appointed position.
The city charter revision commission now empaneled should study the issue and include a provision on how best to reform the registrars' office in its report next January.
Meanwhile, let's never again hear that there are "no funds available" to hold an election.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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