CT: Courant: “How Stupid Is This?”

Update 1/27/2008:  Courant cartoon incorrectly characterizes Editorial Board view as geek view <view>

*****************Original Post*******************
Courant Editorial: Three Registrars Is Too Many, Unfunded Mandate  Dumb law sticks it to Hartford <read>

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.

The Courant continues its editorial against the checks and balances of having two elected registrars, the idea of three really irks them:

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.

To summarize our earlier posts <here> and <here> we have three areas of disagreement with the Courant:

  • We need checks, balances, and oversight in elections, a fundamental basis of democracy. Other states have proven that other systems can work well (and poorly), but a single elected registrar in each of 169 towns is an open invitation to partisan elections and risks skulduggery.
  • There is some wisdom in the current law. Having a registrar elected from a third party may, as in Hartford, reflect the wishes and the political aspirations of the town. In this case, providing representation and oversight to a large block of progressives, who feel they are left out of the Democratic and democratic process. Yet, also the rest of the state deserves oversight by each of the dominant parties to assure accurate vote totals in regional and statewide elections. A dominant party in a town could launch a scheme to elect two insiders from the same party in order to sideline the other dominant party.
  • Most towns have part time registrars, paid at a rate much below the $80,000 a year in Hartford. Other towns size the job to the responsibility. Two registrars may each work 1/2 or 1/3 time, or less depending on the town’s determination of a balance between costs, the work required, and citizen service. Just the type of creative thinking missing in the Courant and in Hartford. Perhaps that need for creative thinking is exactly what inspires a third party and alternatives to a single dominant newspaper
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