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The Registrars' Office Dispute

By Mike McGarry

July 18, 2013

Of all departments in the city, the one office that should be calm, cool and collected is the Registrar of voters office. Turmoil in the voting system is not what the voters want - elections are too important to be bandied about like third world attempts at democracy.

Many of our elections lately have, in primaries, town committee elections, been as close as can be with a few votes - one vote in several instances - making all the difference. Would one trust "volunteers" to handle ballots?

So, with the administration and the council micro-managing the registrar's office, what do we expect in the next round of elections? The whole silly idea that "volunteers" could work from 5 am to 8 pm shows how out of touch the critics are. The idea of reducing pay for poll workers is also misguided. Working the polls, even for light voting elections, is hard, even brutal work. In presidential and gubernatorial years, problems pop up that only trained, experienced workers can handle without voter inconvenience. Lines and confusion discourage voting.

Anyhow, the whole idea of pay cuts, staff changes and council oversight of elections and election officials smacks of overreaching by a council that has lost its way. The voters spoke - they elected the current three registrars and expect them to serve under the conditions (and pay) that the election results demanded.

This Monday night, at the city council public hearing, every speaker said: council, hands off.

The fact that none of the lawfully elected registrars and their lawfully appointed assistants have not been paid since June 1st is beyond belief. Again, the voters spoke, and why does the council dismiss the will of the electorate?

The registrarsí budget passed on by the administration is based on reduced salaries - before the ordinance cutting salaries - has been passed. Welcome to our democratic "Keno" legislation system.

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