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Judge Bars Hartford From Removing Voter Registrars

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A Hartford Superior Court judge has ruled that Hartford may not remove three registrars of voters at the center of Election Day polling place delays last November.Judge Constance Epstein said Tuesday the City Council does not have the authority to remove Democrat Olga Vazquez and Republican Sheila Hall.

The third registrar, Working Families Party member Urania Petit, also asked the court to halt removal hearings but withdrew her case before the decision. She submitted her resignation Tuesday.

Epstein said Hartford's charter doesn't give city officials authority to remove the registrars, who are elected. The registrars are each paid about $80,000 annually.

Ross Garber, a lawyer for the City Council, said officials are evaluating the ruling and haven't decided whether to appeal.

Voter registration lists that weren't ready delayed voting at some Hartford polling places. Secretary of State Denise Merrill who has called for changes to the registrar system says the ruling confirms that removal of a registrar is a necessary provision including in proposed legislation.

In November, Merrill filed a complaint regarding the Hartford registrars’ conduct on Election Day with Connecticut’s Elections Enforcement Commission.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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