Politics Published: Jul 31, 2012 - 4:16:19 PM

Mayor Segarra & Hartford legislators call for election reform

By CT General Assembly

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Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, State Representative Minnie Gonzalez, and other members of the city’s legislative delegation held a press conference today to discuss the need for election reform.

The upcoming Democratic Registrar of Voters primary in Hartford has caused some concerns as the current Registrar of Voters, who is responsible for overseeing elections, is also overseeing her own primary election.

“We have been working for some time on legislation that addresses the issues that have brought us here today,” Rep. Gonzalez said. “Absent a change in the law, we must have oversight of current elections until we can once again work on a legislative fix.”

Registrars of Voters duties are set by state statute and not by individual towns which means that legislative action would be required to make any changes.

“We have a responsibility as lawmakers to ensure that our election system has the needed safeguards —citizens must be confident in the election process. That’s why I have repeatedly introduced legislation to remedy this problem,” said Deputy Speaker Marie Lopez Kirkley-Bey. “The registrar overseeing her very own election actually reduces public confidence and calls into question the integrity of the whole voting process. This should be fixed.”

Kirkley-Bey introduced legislation (HB 5279) in 2005 that would have amended state law to require a registrar of voters who is also a candidate to recuse themselves of official election duties and allow the Secretary of the State to appoint a person to assume such duties through Election Day. She also introduced similar legislation (HB 5751) in 2011 that Representatives Gonzalez and McCrory co-sponsored.

Last week the House leaders of the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee (GAE) also raised concerns about the upcoming Democratic Registrar of Voters primary in Hartford. State Representative Matt Lesser, Vice Chair of GAE said, “I can tell you that if I was a registrar in this position, I would recuse myself. This is something that we need to look at.”

All 169 of Connecticut’s municipalities have a Democratic and Republican registrar. Hartford has a registrar from a minor party as well.

Registrars of Voters oversee all elections, including primaries and referenda in the municipality in which they are elected. Among their duties are registering new voters, maintaining voter registration records, publishing lists of eligible voters, and removing voters who no longer reside in their town or pass away.

They are also responsible for hiring and training poll workers as well as maintaining all voting equipment used for elections. Registrars can also perform supervised voting by absentee ballot in places, such as nursing homes.

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