We still disagree with the Courant on reforming the office of registrar

New editorial on old subject:  Hartford Doesn’t Need Three Registrars – A Crazy Waste: One for each party is too costly <read>

The election must be held, of course, and the registrars must try harder to find the money in their stash to pay for it. At the same time, Hartford must quick-step down the path of reforming this bureaucratic colossus.

There are three registrars: a Democratic registrar and staff, a Republican registrar and staff, and a Working Families Party registrar and staff. When the Working Families registrar position was created, there were fewer members of that party registered to vote than there are members of a baseball team.

Requiring a registrar for such a party is a needless waste. Hartford is broke. Mayor Pedro Segarra recently announced an additional 12 layoffs at a time when the city’s non-school, non-public safety, non-registrar payroll is down to bare bones.

Hartford needs only one registrar. It should be a nonpartisan, professional, appointed position.

The city charter revision commission now empaneled should study the issue and include a provision on how best to reform the registrars’ office in its report next January.

Here is where the Courant Editorial Board gets it wrong, in our opinion:

  • It would be illegal for any town in Connecticut to disregard the State law, with regard to how and how many registrars are elected or appointed. Of what value would an item in a local Charter Revision Commission Report be?
  • The number of registered voters in a party is not the only measure of importance. Our analysis of the 2011 municipal election shows six Democratic Party candidates receiving an average of 3,732 votes, four Working Families Party candidates receiving and average of 2,036 votes, and the Republican Party with three candidates averaging just 966 votes.
  • In the past the Courant has advocated for  a single registrar. That is and was a flawed idea, which would leave a risky system subject to political skulduggery: Downsizing Newspaper Recommends Downsizing Registrars <read> And more recently they seem to at least have understood the law, suggesting it was up the the Legislature: Too Many Registrars? Or Too Little Thought? <read>
  • The Courant is correct, we need professional, appointed election administrators. But they should not be appointed locally, especially in single party dominated towns, like Hartford or Bridgeport. As we have said before, and for quite some time: The comprehensive solution is to “Do for Elections what we have done for Probate“. Consolidation, Professionalization, and Regionalization. Not a panacea, but in our opinion a prerequisite.

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