Registrars Under Fire

Foul ups from fall election highlighted by NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters play a role.

Only in Connecticut will you find a registrar of voters nominated by each political party, in every city and town. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill believes this is part of the reason there have been problems in several recent elections and the system needs to change.

On Monday, Merrill came to the state capital to ask legislators to move forward a bill calling for professionalizing all 169 registrars offices across the state.

”In the past few years election day problems court interventions long lines at the polls and numerous other breaches of the law have shocked the public, and rightly so," she said.

Right now there are essentially two registrars in each of Connecticut’s169 municipalities. One gets nominated from each party. Some people have complained that these are patronage jobs and those who get them lack qualifications. What the Secretary of the State supports is that just one person gets appointed by leaders in each municipality and that they have certain qualifications, along with training they must take.

Several dozen registrars disagree and took buses to the capital to make their case, including Republican Registrar of Voters Fred DeCaro of Greenwich.

”We have legislation that's been proposed that eliminates the balance that occurs in every town," he said. "And we think it's a real blow to the fairness of elections."

This is a bit of a risky move for the secretary of the state, according to political insiders. Many of the registrars are powerful members of her own political party who could influence her nomination if she runs for reelection.

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