Bridgeport Registrar offers fix, Secretary responds

Fairfield Weekly: Notes from a Scandal <read>

[Republican Registrar of Voters] Borges says he’s faced is a dearth of competent personnel to staff polling places. In the past, polls in Bridgeport have closed when workers didn’t show up, he recalls. He suggests urban registrars partner with corporations to help get quality people at the polls, offering to reward the companies in some fashion. (The only requirement to work at a polling station is being registered to vote.)

The secretary of the state’s office offered its own solution to the problem in 2008 by recruiting 125 students at community colleges, including Housatonic Community College. The average age of poll workers is over 70 and they hoped to attract a younger generation. However, “registrars were reluctant to hire these people,” says Deputy Secretary of the State Lesley Mara, a Democrat, because they were perceived to be in Barack Obama’s camp.

Borges also said that the Bridgeport registrar’s office is stretched too thin. The state’s election laws grant complete control over local elections to municipalities and the decentralized system punishes large, cash-strapped cities, he says. Borges thinks registrars should work directly under the secretary of the state.

“That’s probably not going to happen anytime soon,” says outgoing Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who adds that she feels the Bridgeport office is well-staffed — it spends $551,466 annually, most of that in salaries for two registrars (one for each major party), two deputy registrars, a secretarial assistant and seasonal employees. Santa Ayala, Borges’ Democratic counterpart who ordered too few ballots for Nov. 2, did not return the Weekly’s calls seeking an interview.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.