Registrar race makes for unusual primary in North Stonington

North Stonington - A primary will be held in August between two women vying for the opportunity to work with fewer than 4,000 registered voters in a part-time job that pays barely $5,000 a year.

Marilyn Mackay, who has been the town's Democratic Registrar of Voters for nine years, is running for re-election but recently severed ties with the Democratic Party. Although she became unaffiliated in early June so that she could accept the presidency of the League of Women Voters of Southeastern Connecticut, an organization that requires its leaders to be nonpartisan, Mackay was endorsed at the Democratic party's caucus.

Mackay said her deputy registrar, Joan Kepler, is challenging her in the Aug. 12 primary.

In a letter to the editor, Mackay urged her unregistered or unaffiliated supporters to register as a Democrat, if only temporarily, to support her in the primary. She said the Connecticut Secretary of the State requires all registrars to act in a nonpartisan manner despite party affiliation, and thanked the local Democratic committee for its ongoing support.

If elected, Mackay's lack of party affiliation would be unusual. A member of a minority party can be elected as a registrar if he or she wins more votes than one of the majority party candidates, and that happened in Hartford in 2008 and 2012. Hartford has, since then, had three registrars - a Democrat, a Republican and a member of the Working Families party.

"As to the role of our majority political parties, times have changed and I feel unaffiliated voters have gotten short shrift," Mackay said. She noted that more than 40 percent of Connecticut voters were unaffiliated in 2012.

Kepler did not return a request for comment on Thursday.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

Editor's note: This corrects an earlier version about what entity endorsed Mackay.

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