Hartford Committee Begins Probe into Problems at Polls

Hartford’s newly appointed Committee of Inquiry held its first meeting Friday to probe Election Day problems that turned some voters away from city polls and caused major delays at others.

The committee is charged with the difficult task of sorting through what went wrong – namely, why voter registration lists were delivered late to nearly a dozen polling places around the city.

“Clearly, something went very wrong, so we want to get to the bottom of that and move swiftly to address it,” explained Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden.

At the center of the probe is the Office of the Registrar of Voters and the three women who run it. While the registrars are a key component of the investigation, Wooden said that for now, the council’s current focus is on completing the investigation, not what will happen next.

The mayor, on the other hand, is calling on Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Vasquez to resign.

"The Mayor feels she should resign, as there have been many issues within the Registrar of Voters office in the past that he has tried to correct but he also believes that replacing one individual will not fix the problem and that the entire system requires an overhaul," a spokesperson for Mayor Pedro Segarra's office said Friday.

Segarra's office did not offer specific comments with regards to the other two registrars.

"I continue to apologize to the voters It was a challenge we encountered. As this is under investigation, I have no further comments," Vasquez said in response.

Earlier this week, Working Families Party Registrar Urania Petit, also apologized for the snafu during an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut.

"I feel like the people of Hartford deserve an apology and the people in the office have actually done something wrong," said Petit, who has served as city registrar since 1999. "It was an administrative error."

Wooden acknowledged the apology and commended her honesty Friday.

“To the extent someone is willing to be candid and forthright, and truly apologetic, I appreciate that,” said Wooden.

Wooden will serve as a non-voting member of the committee, which includes City Council Majority Leader Alex Aponte, Minority Leader Joel Cruz, Jr. and members Raul de Jesus, Cynthia Jennings and David McDonald.

Day Pitney, LLP and Shipman & Goodwin, LLP are also providing pro-bono legal counsel to the committee.

The committee is expected to complete its report by the end of December.

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