Election Officials to Require Certification

Connecticut's secretary of the state announced Wednesday that all registrars of voters in Connecticut will have to take classes and pass exams in order to carry out elections.

Registrars will have to complete the new certification within two years. Local governments will pay for the $1,600 course.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Connecticut has never had any kind of uniform election training system before.

"There’s really been no direct way particularly to train new people, except it's more of a buddy system where people will go to more established registrars and ask for how to do the job or perhaps the former one would teach them how the ropes were," Merrill explained.

There are 339 registrars of voters in Connecticut.

The push for registrar reform came following Election Day 2014 when Hartford's registrars failed to have polling locations ready when the polls were supposed to open. Many waited in long lines and even left without casting ballots.

Lawmakers approved election changes this year.

State election officials said the certification system could bring clarity to systems that have varied across the state for a long time.

"Election law could be really complex and this will allow for a new, formal process whereby a new registrar who’s coming in is educated in the law and understand the roles and hopefully will cut down on cases that we see," said State Elections Enforcement Commission Director Michael Brandi.

Merrill does have the authority under extreme circumstances to remove a local election official but said she doesn't view the new system as a way to exercise that power.

"This provides us a way to get everybody on the same page. That’s the way I think of it. I am not that focused on punitively removing people if they don’t pass the test," she said. "We’re going to do everything we can to get everything through the process."

Online courses begin next Monday for registrars.

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