Veteran registrar loses endorsement in Norwich

Norwich - Ten-year Democratic Registrar of Voters Nancy DePietro lost the party endorsement Thursday in a close vote at the Democratic Town Committee caucus.

Joann Merolla-Martin, 52, a tax consultant, defeated DePietro 29-26 in the vote for the nomination. Merolla-Martin has been active in the party for many years, but has not sought elected office.

Merolla-Martin said she has time to devote to the office, which maintains the city's voter rolls and oversees elections, because her job is busiest from January through April, traditionally slow times for elections.

DePietro, who has served as Democratic registrar since 2000, would not say whether she would seek a primary.

"I've enjoyed it immensely," DePietro said. "I don't regret any moment of it."

The office has had some controversy over the years. During the 2008 presidential primary, some voters complained they were erroneously told they missed a deadline for registering to vote. The office also misplaced some last-day registrations, causing confusion when those who registered were not on voter lists for the primary.

In 2007, DePietro and Republican Registrar Gerald Kortfelt each were fined $3,000 for mistakes in the fall 2006 election, when four mechanical voter machines were brought to the wrong voting districts. Norwich has two districts for state representative, and machines at two polling places had the names of candidates running in the other districts.

Kortfelt seeks re-nomination for his seat Monday at a Republican Town Committee caucus.

- Claire Bessette

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