The Stratford Town Council voted to reform the Registrar of Voters office that includes professionalizing the Registrar of Voters offices to full time positions. Currently, the Registrar of Voters are elected to part time positions, with assistant registrars The office is currently staffed by two part time registrars and two assistant registrars, the budget increase will fund an additional $87,000 to $88,000.
In recent years, the responsibilities of registrars in the State of Connecticut have grown significantly given new laws to open up voter registration and absentee balloting in the State. Additionally, more post election audits and voter verification/ with the increased regulations overseeing elections, "Requirements are more stringent. There are significant penalties if not done professionally," said Councilmember Stephanie Philips (D-3) at the March 10 Council meeting. The role has also become more computer and statistical driven, requiring professional standards in election management.
In addition for paying for added professional requirements, the Town is also paying for additional knowledge and expertise of the Registrar's office, "The scope has changed. You need deeper thinking. You're not just putting cards away. You need professionals," stated Councilmember James Connor (R-8) when he justified his vote.
The hours and professional make up of Registrar offices throughout the state of Connecticut are not standardized as some smaller towns have part time registrars and some have full time registrars in larger communities. Councilmember Craig Budnick (R-7) noted that there is no model in how to manage personnel hours at the Registrar's office. Stratford currently ranks the 16th most populated town in Connecticut with nearly 53,000 residents. Nearly all of the 16 towns ahead of them have full time Registrar positions.
"with the increased responsibility delegated to us from Hartford, the job now requires a full time office," said Republican Registrar, Louis DeCilio. With new laws also comes the need for learning how to manage and interpret new regulations and requirements. Mr. DeCilio sees this change to full time as beneficial to the voters in Stratford by making the office more accessible to the public. "We are extending office hours into the evenings and open early before primaries and general elections to make things more convenient for people who want to register," he added.
THe benefits packages for the four positions in the Registrar's office remain unchanged as they already have the same benefits of the 37.5 hour per week full time employees in Town Hall. Previously their hours were limited to 22.5 hours per week outside of election season. This new town resolution now standardizes the position to 37.5 hours per week, which is the norm for full time work in the public sector and nonprofit sectors. The Stratford Registrars, Rick Marcone and Louis DeCilio will know make under $67,000, which is almost 32% lower than the base salary of the Hartford and Bridgeport registrars.
The resolution was approved overwhelmingly with bipartisan support, passing 9 yes votes to 1 no vote, with Second District Councilman Matthew Catalano voting no and accused his fellow Councilmembers of being unfit for office during public comment.