Registrar of Voters hopes to regain election activities funding

Waterford - The Registrar of Voters intends to seek restoration of some of the funding cut from its 2014-15 budget proposal by the Representative Town Meeting at its May 5 meeting.

"We have to have the money to run the election on Election Day," Republican Registrar Patti Waters said Wednesday.

The RTM trimmed $2,500 from the registrar's $61,000 budget, including $1,000 from the election activities line item.

Voting on the election activities cut fell mostly along party lines. Eleven Republicans voted in favor of the cut, while seven Democrats and one Republican voted against it, according to Town Clerk Robert Nye. The resulting budget for the registrar passed unanimously, according to Nye.

Republican RTM member Kimberly Alfultis, who motioned for each cut to the registrar's budget, said she initiated the cuts to reduce the department's budget increase from 7.5 percent to 3 percent. She said she wanted to keep budget increases in line with inflation.

"I wasn't singling out the registrar," she said, adding that she would be willing to reconsider the cuts at the RTM's final budget hearing on Monday.

"They didn't come in with a lot of hard and fast data, and I'm very willing to listen to any supplemental data that they can provide," she said.

Waters and Democratic Registrar Diane Cramer said Wednesday that the cut to election activities would force the registrar to later ask the town for additional appropriations to cover the costs of staffing polling locations for the gubernatorial election.

The registrar is seeking $8,000, a $1,200 increase over the 2013-14 budget, to staff four polling locations and a newly required separate station for voter registration on Election Day.

They said one reason they needed the funding increase is because last year they staffed only for voting in local elections. Gubernatorial elections draw more traffic.

The registrar spent about $20,000 on election activities in 2012-13, which included the last presidential election.

Cramer said the registrar budgeted for six staff at each polling location, which is in line with the minimum required by state statute.

State law requires each polling location have at least one moderator, two registrars, one ballot clerk, and one machine tender and one official checker, Connecticut Secretary of State spokesman Av Harris wrote in an email.

"We can't cut anybody. This is mandated by the state that we need these workers," Cramer said.

Waters said the registrar also may seek restoration of some funding for materials and supplies, which the RTM cut by about $400.

t.townsend@theday.com

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