Registrars mess up, City (taxpayers) pay fines, eventually

“Justice delayed is justice denied.” What could be worse?  Perhaps “Justice delayed and fines transferred to the victims.”

In 2014 the Registrars in Hartford failed to provide check-off lists to polling places in time for voting to begin at 6:00am.   From the stories of the public and explanations from officials at the time, it seems pretty clear it was not a simple error or comedy of errors. <read>

From the Courant:  City Fined $9,600 For Election Day Problems – Investigation Critical Of Registrars Of Voters <read>

The state Elections Enforcement Commission has fined the city of Hartford $9,600 for the 2014 Election Day snafus that left many people, including the governor, unable to vote when polls opened.
The state’s investigation found that the three Hartford registrars of voters didn’t finish preparing the official voter registry lists until a half hour before polls opened and, because of that, 14 polling places opened late or without the proper voter lists needed to check off names…
Even after polls closed, the registrars had issues. The investigation found that there was a 2,035-vote discrepancy in the number of ballots cast for governor versus the number of people check ed off as having voted. There also was a 93-vote discrepancy in absentee ballots.
After a second count, the absentee ballot disparity was corrected, but there was still a 1,542 difference in votes for governor that was never resolved.
The investigation is critical of all three Hartford Registrars—Republican Sheila Hall, Democrat Olga Vazquez and Working Families Party Urania Petit—but was particularly harsh toward Vazquez, who was tasked with getting the voter rolls ready.
“Ms. Vazquez’s wantonly poor decision-making reflected either a too casual approach to her work, or a serious deficiency in her ability to do the job,” the report concluded.
Vazquez was in charge of getting the voter registry lists to the moderators at each of the 24 polling places. But the books weren’t sent to the printer until only a few days before the election, and the registrars didn’t cross absentee voters off the lists until only two days before the election. They didn’t
complete that task until 5:30 a.m. on Election Day—a half hour before polls were to open.
The investigation made it clear the delay was primarily Vazquez’s fault.
“Starting with a misreading of the election calendar concerning when she needed to print the list—an inexcusable mistake by a registrar with her experience—she appeared to miss opportunity after opportunity to avoid the slowly unfolding calamity that rolled into the public eye on the morning of Election Day,” the report concluded.
Our Editorial
The pollbook delay went beyond incompetence. These conclusions and fines should not take close to three years.  The well-compensated registrars should be paying the fines not the City.
Also victimized are the voters of the State and candidates for State Office who depend on every municipality to conduct fair and accurate elections.
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