Election administration is, at its core, a customer service function best performed locally. The genius of the Constitution was the decentralization of power and decision making. When it comes to something so important as states holding elections, that Constitutional design shouldn’t be scrapped so the federal government dictates more rules to the states.
Why can 49 other states have one professional in charge of elections locally but not Connecticut?
As municipal employees, these registrars could be required to be certified and undergo yearly training, and face real consequences for not following state election laws — like losing their jobs…
Twice in the last four years Connecticut has been nationally ridiculed for serious election administration failures that disenfranchised voters in Bridgeport and Hartford. Yet the registrars whose failures led to that disenfranchisement, including one who is under criminal investigation for voter fraud, still sit in positions of authority running elections in those two communities. Under our current structure, any town could be the next Hartford or Bridgeport.
A proposal by the city council to begin the process of removing Hartford’s three registrars has raised questions over what would happen to the office.
State law says the deputy registrars would take over. But the city charter says the council has the power to fill vacancies that arise in elected positions. Council President Shawn Wooden said he is hoping a bill that would allow the city to appoint a single, nonpartisan registrar will solve the issue… Wooden said the change would create “a clear line of accountability” in the office.
A Democrat, Days has overseen county elections since her appointment by the commission in 2011. Her annual salary was $118,539.
The commission consists of four gubernatorial appointments, two Republicans and two Democrats. The party holding the governor’s office chooses the paid election director.
Days’ tenure was marred by a shortage of paper ballots in the November, 2014 general election, faulty electronic balloting equipment and lengthy delays in reporting election results.
Days also landed in the center of a discredited national story last October when she incorrectly told USA Today and Huffington Post that 3,287 Ferguson residents had registered to vote in the months following the summer unrest in their community. The actual number of registrations, which was closer to a figure she’d provided earlier to the Post-Dispatch, was 128.
“In short, multiple, serious errors plagued the administration of the 2014 General Election in Hartford. These errors appear to have resulted in the disenfranchisement of Hartford voters and, even several months later, a lack of an accurate vote count.”
The “numerous failures” by Hartford’s Registrars of Voters office, documented in a January 16 report, include “a failure to file final registry books with the town and city clerk by Oct. 29; a failure to prepare and deliver final registry books to moderators by 8 p.m. the night before the election, as required by state law;” and the fact that “no Hartford election official can explain what happened to approximately 70 absentee ballots reported as having been received.”
Hartford city council members said today they will seek to remove the city’s three registrars and may recommend additional reforms. Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission has launched a separate investigation.