Wouldn't you know, Hartford's three registrars of voters can't get along and are squabbling among themselves. This is not new, but things have gotten so bad that Mayor Pedro Segarra has offered to serve as a mediator to resolve disagreements.
This problem could be permanently resolved if the legislature would get off its keister. The city shouldn't have three registrars. It does because of a quirk in state election law.
The law says the candidates for registrar of voters who garner the highest and second-highest number of votes win the posts. But if a major-party candidate — Democrat or Republican — is not among the top two finishers, that candidate must also be named a registrar.
In 2008, Urania Petit petitioned her way onto the Hartford ballot as a registrar candidate for the Working Families Party, and then outpolled the Republican registrar, Salvatore Bramante. The result is that both of them, along with Democrat Olga Iris Vazquez, all became registrars. A registrar in Hartford makes $80,000 per year. Add costs for staff, benefits, computers, etc., and each registrar costs the city about $200,000.
This is too stupid for words. The city is in dire fiscal straits and it has to waste $200,000 on a completely unnecessary job. That spending could go toward parks or public works employees, police officers, reading consultants — or it could be eliminated to lower the budget. If Hartford is going to waste money, why not at least make it fun and drop it in small bills from a plane over the city?
The legislature needs to change the law in its next session. Hartford could do just fine with one professional, nonpartisan registrar. It certainly doesn't need three.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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