Connecticut is launching a required registrar certification system Monday following missteps at polling places last Election Day. The certification program, as called for by legislation signed into law in July, is designed to standardize registrars’ practices concerning election law, voter registration and management. Secretary of State Denise Merrill says it’s a way to get all registrars, who are elected along party lines by voters in each town, on the same page. “There’s really been no direct way to train, particularly new people, except it’s a kind of buddy system where they’ll go to more established registrars and ask them how to do the job or perhaps the former one would teach them what the ropes were,” said Merrill. “But in many cases, there are 169 towns, and a lot of people are doing things different ways and sometimes have not have caught up with the law on some of these things particularly are record keeping.”
The course will be run through the UConn School of Business and taught by a faculty member. Registrars will be able to attend the course remotely via live video at UConn’s campuses in Stamford, Hartford, Waterbury, Groton and Torrington. Using one- to two-hour modules, the curriculum covers topics such as absentee voting, petitions and Election Day preparation. A bipartisan committee of registrars along with people from Connecticut’s Election Enforcement Commission and Secretary Merrill’s office created the curriculum. The law requires Connecticut’s towns to pay for the course, which costs about $1,600.
“I believe this to be a very worthy investment of time and resources because even though many registrars are very experienced and have been on the job for years, there are always new regulations and laws that impact their job. We sometimes find that even the most diligent registrar may not be aware of some of the changes in the law and that requires some change in the way an election is run at the local level.”