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Disenfranchising the Voters

By Mike McGarry

May 30, 2013

The efforts by the City Council, and to lesser degree the Mayor, to cut the budget of the Registrars' office will lead to poor service at our polling places, less outreach to potential voters and a lessening of democracy in a city that needs it badly.

It's obvious that bad blood between various factions and individuals in the Democratic party has led to this miserable situation. Also, the weakness of the Hartford Republican party allowing the Working Families Party to elect a third registrar is another factor.

However, messing with an established system using a meat-cleaver approach doesn't solve anything. The voters spoke: they elected the current Democratic incumbent and decided (despite the obvious cost) that the city needs three registrars.

Does the Council have such distain for Hartford voters that it can throw out election results on a fit of revenge and payback?

The question is: how many Council persons have ever worked the polls on a busy election? Let's face it - it's tough work with our mobile population, cross-endorsements (ruining ballots) ever changing personnel in the polling places, occasional troublemakers and so on. By cutting the budget in half, you will eliminate full time assistant Registrars. So, how do you assure that the polls will be run effectively? Training, supervision, and accountability will suffer. We are not a third world country, elections should be of the highest priority.

Your reporter worked the last election in a function that would not be available in this budget meltdown. Our job was to keep peace in the line, making sure voters were in the right polling place, understood the ballot and had I.D.'s ready. Without this intervention hundreds of voters would have walked away from voting cursing the system and the city.

It does seem that the Council could care less about serving the voters in order to get it's pound of flesh. Lawsuits and bad publicity will loom if the Registrars' office is stripped by budget cuts of it's lawful responsibility.

Reprinted with permission of the The Hartford News.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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