How stupid is this? Hartford is in such dire fiscal straits that it has had to lay off or retire scores of workers this fall, with more personnel cuts likely to come next year. But because of a quirk in state law, the city will have to shell out $200,000 for a needless third registrar of voters.
State election law says the candidates for registrar of voters who garner the highest and second-highest number of votes win the posts. Here's the twist: If a major-party candidate is not among the top two finishers, that candidate is also named a registrar.
This year, 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, who took most of the votes, all become registrars. A registrar in Hartford makes $80,000 per year; deputies make $60,000 and assistants make $40,000. Add other costs such as computers and benefits, and it's the equivalent of four or five of the public works jobs that were lost.
The legislature should change the law as soon as possible so a city can end up with no more than two registrars. We have questioned whether two is too many; three certainly is.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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