Legally Questionable Solution Proposed for Bickering Registrars

Courant report: West Hartford To Hire Administrator For Registrars’ Office <read>

As was reported last year, the West Hartford registrars do not get along, resulting in trading complaints, long lines at polls, and an inability to solve that without intervention by the Secretary of the State.

The latest is an attempt by the town to fix the problem, despite the fact that the registrars are publicly elected officials charged with running the elections:

The town will hire an office manager to take over the administrative functions of the embattled registrars of voters office, where town officials said long – standing problems between the registrars contributed to long lines and frustration among voters in the 2012 elections.

The plan will leave more time for the elected registrars to perform their statutory duties, such as running elections.

In a memorandum dated Feb. 6, Deputy Corporation Counsel Patrick Alair laid out a plan for a “complete overhaul” of the office. The memo was discussed at Monday’s meeting of the committee to review operations of the registrars o f voters, formed by Mayor Scott Slifka shortly after the 2012 election…

Under the plan, the registrars would serve as more of a governing body, while a paid staff member performs administrative tasks. The staff member will be an assistant town clerk, though the title may change as the job description is finalized, the memo stated. Town clerks and assistant town clerks are legally able to register voters…

“How the registrars execute all of their duties is largely left to them to work out between themselves with whatever support and advice their municipalities may provide. This system provides ample opportunity for error even in the best – managed situations,” Alair wrote. “When the registrars are unable to work together to sort out those details, however, the system collapses.”

Leading up to the problems on Election Day 2012, the office had been embroiled in conflict for nearly a decade since a failed attempt to revamp it.

Unfortunately, we do not see this as a solution as long as the registrars do not agree, since they are legally responsible for critical decisions.

Brazell continues to object to the idea of an assistant and says “she would not work willingly with a new administrator if one was appointed,” Alair wrote.

On Tuesday, Brazell said she was “not happy” about the new plan “because I think it’s running fine just the way it is.” When asked if she would cooperate with a staff member since one is going to be hired, she said, “of course…

Thornberry agrees with the new plan, officials said. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Town council members on both sides of the aisle are supportive of the new plan

In our opinion,  best that the Town Council members can do is to work with their Town Committees to find candidates who, if elected would work together, or to find satisfactory candidates to win in primaries.

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