Hartford’s latest budget slashed money to every city department. But one department, the Registrar of Voters, warns that the November elections are in jeopardy if Hartford doesn’t replace $180,000 cut out of its budget.
But Hartford Councilman Kenneth Kennedy (D) says the Registrar should look to cut expensive election consultants first.
“My issue is not so much with polling places as with consultants that are hired for elections and I think that's why the council, when looking at the budget, decided that maybe those costs could be trimmed,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy also pointed out that Hartford just entered the second quarter of its fiscal year, so only the August primaries could have depleted the Registrar’s funds at this point.
“I find it hard to believe at this date that we are out of funds,” said Kennedy.
So, could Hartford residents conceivably have no polls to go to on November 6? Don’t lose sleep over it.
“There will be an election. It's mandated by state statute,” explained Kennedy.
NBC Connecticut contacted the Democratic and Republican Registrars for their side of the story, but those who could speak to us were out of the office.
But, the Registrar for the Working Families Party, Urania Petit, released the following statement:
"This is absolutely absurd. This is about preserving political patronage at the expense of well run elections.There is no reason the department should lack the funds to run the November election if it had followed the common-sense suggestions I made to reduce costs. Last election, the budget for absentee ballots was $20,000 for just 250 ballots. That’s $80 per ballot. Last election this office hired 4 people to supervise one tabulator. I suggested reducing that to one, which would save $10,800 each election. In addition to these proposals, I have stated that I would be willing to take a pay cut if needed in order to preserve well run elections. I didn’t take this job for the pay check, I took it because of the dignity of the office and the importance of elections in our democracy. This Department can come up with ways of saving significant amounts of money without diminishing the effectiveness of the voting process or the integrity of the office. That is why I proposed cost saving measures."
The Mayor’s Office also released a statement: It’s time for those who were elected to stand up, put their personal differences aside and do the job they were elected to do.
The next step is likely a request by the Registrar’s office to the City Council for more money.