With a little over a month left until the Democratic primary, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra still doesn’t know if he’s going to be on the ballot.
This time last election cycle Segarra was seated comfortably on the ballot as the Hartford Democratic Town Committee’s endorsed candidate, but the mayor’s rejection of the committee’s nomination late last month has forced his campaign to take an alternate route.
After calling the endorsement process corrupt and promptly walking out of the convention, Segarra took to the streets in an attempt to obtain the 1,700 signatures necessary to secure his position as an independent for the upcoming Democratic primary.
Now, it’s up to Hartford’s Registrar of Voters to determine whether Segarra’s signatures check out — the same officials the mayor called upon to resign last year after an election day debacle.
“I’ve told her directly to her face numerous times that she is incompetent,” Segarra told the Hartford Courant last year. Segarra was referring to Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Vazquez.
By law, the registrar must verify signatures by checking them against a list of requirements, and discounting the ones that don’t meet those requirements.
A signature would be invalid if, for example, the signature didn’t match the name on the holder’s voter registration card, or if an address is misprinted.
According to a campaign spokesperson for the mayor, Segarra’s campaign turned in the first batch of petitions last Thursday, which amounted to roughly 1,800 signatures. The campaign has continued to turn in signatures since then and Segarra’s spokesperson say they will continue to do so until 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“In terms of his strategy, we hit the streets by going door to door,” Segarra’s campaign spokesperson Jenna Grande said. “We received a very positive response and because of that, we are encouraged by and confident that we will be successful in September.”
But history shows that it’s not easy for a candidate to petition their way unto a ballot.
In Connecticut, perhaps no one knows this better than former gubernatorial hopeful Jonathan Pelto, a candidate who continuously talked of “spoiling” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chances at re-election, until he came up short on valid signatures.
When Pelto submitted his petition to local Registrar of Voters last August, he needed 7,500 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
But at the end of the day, only 4,318 were deemed valid and he was booted from the race.
At the end of Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, the registrar’s office has 5 to 7 business days to either reject the petition or submit it for certification.
Asked when they would be finished verifying the signatures, an office member declined to give a specific answer, saying it would take them “a few days.”