The state Senate on Thursday responded to last Election Day’s polling place problems with unanimous approval of a bill that gives the Secretary of the State more control over elections officials and establishes a training and certification process for registrars of voters. Due in large part to office politics and poor personal relationships between election officials, Hartford’s registrars of voters failed in last fall’s statewide elections to adequately prepare and open several polling places on time, to properly tally votes and to properly account for absentee ballots, according to a investigative report released in January that outlined “multiple, serious errors.”
The report said that the errors resulted in some people not being able to vote and “even several months later, the lack of an accurate vote count.”
According to the report’s findings, the problems were caused by a dysfunctional working relationship among election officials, lack of leadership and accountability, and the lack of a chain of command. The city’s three registrars ignored deadlines imposed by the Secretary of the State’s office and failed to prepare a final registry list of voters for poll workers to cross reference when people came to cast votes. In the days before the election, city registrars were giving each other the silent treatment. The day after the election, a shouting match resulted in the police being called to the Registrars’ Office.