Action on Hartford voting issues expected today
HARTFORD– The mayor and the president of the city council proposed actions in the wake of voting problems in Hartford on election day.
Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and City Council President Shawn T. Wooden issued a statement saying they were proposing two resolutions. The first would launch an investigation into the voting issues and the second that would restructure the Registrars of Voters office. Draft resolutions will be considered for the City Council’s next meeting Monday, November 10th.
Two polling locations in Hartford were ordered to remain open an extra half hour until 8:30 p.m. after issues early Tuesday morning where the voting lists were not delivered in time.
Gov. Dan Malloy had petitioned the court Tuesday morning asking for the polls remain open an extra hour after early problems at polling places in Hartford.
One witness testified that the voter lists, which identify residents who are eligible to vote at each location, were not at several polling places in Hartford by opening time at 6 a.m. Ultimately, one moderator said 20-30 people left unable to vote, but some did return and vote later. The moderator kept lists of the people who were turned away.
Attorneys for Malloy said out of 24 voting places in Hartford, 19 were contacted. Ten polling places had a delays in getting voter lists–they said lists arrived to the various locations between 6:10 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Five sites were not able to be contacted.
The two locations the judge chose to keep open were the L.W. Batchelder Elementary School and the United Methodist Church. Anyone who was in line to vote by 8:30 p.m. at those two locations had the opportunity to cast a ballot.
Ballots cast after 8 p.m. were held on the side in accordance with federal law. The judge also ordered that the Secretary of the State’s Office investigate why such a well-publicized election had the issues to begin with.
The judge said the reason that voting was only extended for 30 minutes was so that those who could not vote this morning would have enough time to return and vote, but not enough time for additional persons who couldn’t vote earlier to go to the polls.
Gov. Dan Malloy was pleased that his request was granted, and released the following statement:
We are pleased the court has decided to give every voter in Hartford who wants to cast a ballot the opportunity to vote. The right to vote in a democracy is fundamental and should never be infringed. We encourage every voter in Hartford to come out and let their voices be heard.
President Barack Obama weighed in on the problem in an interview on “The Colin McEnroe Show” on WNPR-FM Tuesday afternoon. He urged Hartford residents impacted by the the problem to go back to the polls.
According to Malloy’s lawyer, state law requires all registrar books to be delivered by 8 p.m. the night before the election.
Voters at the Methodist Church on Farmington Avenue, Batchelder School, and Hartford Seminary said there were no registrar books and that names were written down by hand, slowing down the process. Books were delivered shortly after 7 a.m. at the Seminary and the Methodist church locations.
An official at one Hartford polling place says a computer glitch was the cause of the delay at multiple locations around the city.
GOP candidate for Secretary of State, Peter Lumaj objected to the efforts, saying, “I believe that if you extend voting hours for some communities, you should give all other voters fair and equal treatment, and extend the voting hours in every town.”
On Election day in 2010 a judge extended hours for 12 polling places in Bridgeport due to shortages of blank ballots.