State Begins Investigation Into Hartford Voting Problems

The State Elections Enforcement Commission voted Tuesday to consider a recommendation from the secretary of the state, who filed a complaint over voting operations following an Election Day snafu in Hartford two weeks ago.

"Staff will move forward with that,” said Michael Brandi, the Executive Director of the SEEC. “It's a confidential process but we will move forward to complete the investigation and report it back to the commission for the commission to then determine whether any violations of election law have occurred."

The complaint – and resulting recommendation – comes after precincts in Hartford were unprepared for the polls to open at 6 a.m. Election Day, causing delays. Voters milled around in frustration while waiting for registration lists to arrive late from the office of the Registrars of Voters in Hartford.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he welcomes the SEEC investigation.

"These were state elections and they have a legitimate interest in ensuring that they get to the bottom of the situation,” Segarra said.

In a statement released to NBC Connecticut last week, the Hartford Democratic Registrar of Voters apologized to voters and took responsibility for the failures on Election Day.

The Working Families Party Registrar, Urania Petit, also apologized. Both have remained in their positions despite some calls to resign.

The investigation into the Hartford registrars will begin immediately. It will take anywhere from three to six months to complete, but could be expedited.

"It's a priority case for us, so we will be committing the necessary resources to move through this process as quickly as we can," said Brandi. "But as with any investigation, it's very difficult to determine a time frame until you actually get into the documents and the details of the case.”

Segarra said he won't jump to conclusions about personnel decisions the investigation results are returned.

"I think at this point, the best that can happen is for folks that are disinterested in this to review the situation, to conduct the investigation, to gather all of the facts," Segarra said, "and then once they have a handle on exactly what happened, we can talk about what actions need to follow."

The Hartford City Council has launched an investigation of its own.

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