New legislation includes unfunded mandate

Republican Registrar Tina Gardner and Democratic Registrar Carole Young-Kleinfeld briefed the Board of Selectmen at its meeting on Aug. 3 on two new bills passed by the state concerning municipal voting registrars.
The purpose of one bill is to improve municipal elections.
It requires every registrar in the state to complete an unfunded certification program within two years of taking office, payable by the towns.
“We estimate that over the course of two years the program will cost $1,600. It consists of eight classes at a cost of $200 per class (per registrar),” said Young-Kleinfeld.
The program will be given at the University of Connecticut School of Business in Stamford.
“We think that the classes will start later this summer,” she said.
First Selectman Bill Brennan observed that under the new legislation, in addition to the $3,200 ($1,600 for each registrar) required for the certification program, an annual eight hours of training would be necessary for registrars to keep their certifications.
“Is that at a cost?” he asked.
“Those hours,” answered Young-Kleinfeld, “can be satisfied almost entirely by attending the conferences that Tina and I already attend with our deputy registrars, so I don’t see that as an extra cost above and beyond the continuing education [cost].”

Other changes

“The act also describes the procedure for removal of registrars of voters for willful misconduct or neglect of duty,” said Gardner.
Young-Kleinfeld noted a change to reporting of election night results under the new law, which she felt would be an “improvement.”
She said it was suggested by several of the registrars around the state.
“The election results from our voting machines in our three voting districts and our absentee voting location will be aggregated and sent to the secretary of the state by midnight on election night. These results will not include some of the more time-consuming parts of tabulating election results, like tabulating write-in votes, or counting any ballots that have to be hand-counted,” she said.
“This legislation gives us two more days to take care of those extra tabulations that have to be done by hand. So I think this is a good thing for accuracy,” she added.
According to Gardner, the new legislation also allows municipalities to band together for the purpose of coeducation.
“Right now, we have moderator training that is done by a moderator like Carol ... and she has the ability to teach other moderators from other towns. So those kinds of cooperative education and opportunities we will have under this bill, and that’s just an example of one that’s in existence already.”
The second bill dedicates part of the state budget so municipalities can hire regional part-time elections monitors.
“Each regional council government [can now] hire a part-time elections monitor as a consultant to the region’s local communities on problematic election issues.”
According to Young-Kleinfeld, the monitors are budgeted at 10 hours per year and their duties are still being decided.