The Hartford City Council voted Wednesday to investigate what happened on Election Day at several polling places.
The council approved two measures. One which created a committee to investigate the issues on Election Day and a second aimed at restructuring the Registrar of Voters’ office.
Five members of the city council will comprise the Committee of Inquiry, which was tasked with investigating the issues on Election Day. The members include Council Majority Leader Alex Aponte, Minority Leader Joel Cruz Jr., Councilman Raul de Jesus, Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings, and Councilman David McDonald. Council President Shawn Wooden will serve as a sixth non-voting member.
The committee is expected to complete its report no later than Dec. 31. It will have the help of two law firms: Day Pitney and Shipman & Goodwin. It is also expected to use subpoena power to get documents and compel testimony from election officials.
“I want to get to the bottom of what happened on Election Day, but more importantly, make whatever changes are necessary to ensure voters can cast their ballot when they are supposed to,” Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said.
The committee won’t be wasting any time and plans to hold its first meeting 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“This is the first step in the process,” Wooden, Aponte, and Cruz said in a joint statement. “We know mistakes were made but in order to devise an appropriate solution, we need to acquire all the facts and then work with the Mayor, the State Legislative Delegation and others to fix the problem.”
In addition to the investigation, the council’s operations and budget committee will review the findings and work to make recommendations to reform the administration of elections.
It’s still unclear how many voters showed up at Hartford polling places between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on Election Day and may not have been able to vote.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill was forced to vote by affidavit because the voter checklist had not arrived at the Hartford Seminary by 6:15 a.m. when she showed up to cast her ballot. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who also votes at that location had planned to vote at 7:10 a.m., but delayed his arrival until around 7:30 a.m. in order to give poll workers time to get the checklist.
Malloy’s campaign ended up taking all three of Hartford’s Registrar of Voters to court later that afternoon in an attempt to keep the polls open longer. Hartford Superior Court Judge Carl Schuman agreed to allow two Hartford polling places to stay open until 8:30 p.m.
In addition to the Hartford investigation, Merrill has asked the State Elections Enforcement Commission to investigate the matter.