For Democracy’s Sake, Keep Elected Registrars

March 27, 2015

By State Senator Joe Markley

Fair elections are essential to a functioning democracy. Unfortunately, recent blunders have given the citizens of Connecticut reason to question the integrity of the voting process.

Last November, registrars in Hartford failed to prepare voting lists in time to open the polls at 6 a.m. on Election Day. This caused many voters—including the Governor himself—to wait hours to vote, and led a judge to order the polls kept open for an additional half hour.

In response, Secretary of State Denise Merrill has proposed we eliminate our system of elected registrars, replacing them with a, “single, professional municipal employee.” Like most knee-jerk reactions, it’s a bad idea.

Elections enable the people at large to remove bad public servants. In the case of registrars, Secretary Merrill wants to replace that highly-responsive system—which ensures that all major parties have a part in elections—with a single person hired by the powers that be in town.

Under the new set-up, voters would have no way to hold registrars directly accountable for incompetence or corruption; that responsibility would be placed in the hands of the politicians and bureaucrats above them.

As a State Senator, I deal with ten registrars: a Democrat and a Republican in each of the five towns I represent. I have complete confidence in the honesty and the ability of every one of them.

Democracy can be messy, but it’s certainly the best system available. Elected registrars—like any of us—may err, yet I’d rather keep power in the hands of the voters than turn our election system over to unelected bureaucrats selected by the politicians themselves.