An attorney retained by the city council said in a written opinion Wednesday that the council has the power to remove elected officials. Allan B. Taylor, a legislative and legal adviser to the council, said he was responding to questions raised about whether the panel has the authority to remove such officials. The council has begun the process of seeking to remove Hartford’s three registrars of voters, following problems on Election Day that caused several polling places to open late. People were unable to vote at as many as 10 polling locations when they opened at 6 a.m. on Election Day because the voter lists were not delivered on time. Voters waited more than an hour at some polling places, and some left without voting, prompting the Democratic Party to seek extended hours. A Superior Court judge eventually ordered that two polling places remain open for an extra half-hour. PDF: Attorney’s Report On Hartford Registrars
The council formed a special committee to investigate the registrars’ office, and in January the group issued a report highlighting numerous failures by the registrars during and after Election Day. The council later that month approved the hiring of an independent attorney to draft any charges deemed necessary against the registrars.
The attorney, Ross Garber, last week returned charges that could lead to the registrars’ removal.
“This opinion addresses the question [of] whether the authority to remove elected officials granted to the Hartford Court of Common Council … is valid,” Taylor wrote in a memo to the council. “That question has arisen because the authority to remove contained in the charter is unusual, perhaps unique, among Connecticut municipalities and because the General Statutes do not contain any grant of authority to municipalities to empower their legislative bodies to remove elected officials.