Citing Election Day problems, city council members said Tuesday that they will seek to remove the city’s three registrars of voters. Council members said they will file a resolution Wednesday that, if approved, would begin the removal process for the registrars — Democrat Olga Vazquez; Urania Petit, a Working Families Party member; and Republican Sheila Hall. Council President Shawn Wooden said a vote on the plan is expected Monday. The council can remove elected officials with a supermajority vote, meaning that seven of the nine members would have to vote in favor of the proposal. The registrars’ office could face additional reforms as well; the council’s operations, management, budget and legislative affairs committee is developing a set of recommendations for change. “The council believes that the conduct reported by the committee may constitute ‘dereliction of official duty, or incompetence’ by the Hartford Registrars of Voters,” the resolution, sponsored by Wooden and four other council members, says.
A committee formed to investigate Election Day mishaps released a report Friday highlighting numerous errors on the part of the registrars’ office that caused polls to open late on Nov. 4. They included: a failure of elections officials to provide the secretary of the state with information about polling place moderators; a failure to file final registry books with the town and city clerk by Oct. 29; a failure to prepare and deliver final registry books to moderators by 8 p.m. the night before the election, as required by state law; and a failure to correct discrepancies in the vote tallies reported by the head moderator.
The resolution calls for hiring attorney Ross Garber, who did volunteer work for the committee investigating Election Day issues, to “draft charges warranted by the information gathered by the committee … against each registrar of voters for consideration by the council.”
Garber would present a statement of charges to the council by Jan. 30. If the council decides to continue with the removal process, the resolution states, Garber would act as prosecuting counsel.
“It is incumbent on the council to act,” Wooden said Tuesday, “and if we don’t act, shame on us.