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Judge: Two Hartford polling places to stay open until 8:30 p.m.

Hartford -- A Superior Court judge has ordered that two Hartford polling places stay open an extra half-hour, until 8:30 tonight, after problems kept some polling places in the city from opening on time this morning.

The order came in response to a complaint filed by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's campaign. Republicans opposed the extension of polling hours.

An attorney for the Secretary of the State's office has notified the State Elections Enforcement Commission that he intends to file a complaint over what he calls the "gross misconduct" of Hartford's registrars of voters.

Ted Bromley, the attorney, cited today's Superior Court testimony in Malloy's complaint over polling-place problems this morning in Hartford, charging that Hartford registrars had violated state laws by failing to properly prepare final voters lists and open polls on time.

Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama responded to the voting-place problems, calling into "The Colin McEnroe Show" on WNPR shortly after 1 p.m.

"The main thing I want to emphasize is that those folks get a chance to vote," Obama said of those turned away from the polls.

Under Judge Carl Schuman's order, polling places at the Batchelder School and the United Methodist Church were to stay open the extra half-hour.

"We are pleased the court has decided to give every voter in Hartford who wants to cast a ballot the opportunity to vote," Mark Bergman, a spokesman for the Malloy campaign, said in a statment. "The right to vote in a democracy is fundamental and should never be infringed. We encourage every voter in Hartford to come out and let their voices be heard."

According to the Malloy complaint, a dozen Hartford polling places failed to open at 6 a.m., as required by law. At nine polling places, voters could not vote for at least 30 and up to 90 minutes, with no certainty when they would open.

The delayed openings were "reportedly due in whole or in substantial part" to the failure of one or more local officials to provide lists of voters to the polling places, the complaint said.

Named as defendants were Olga Iris Vasquez, Hartford's Democratic registrar of voters; Sheila N. Hall, the city's Republican registrar; Urania Petit, the Working Families Party registrar; and Denise Merrill, the secretary of the state.

A "substanital number" of voters who were not allowed to vote left polling places before they eventually opened, the complaint charged "and a substantial number of people who wished to vote were discouraged from voting by lengthy lines at those polling placees."

Word of the problems, spread by social and other media, further suppressed turnout, according to the complaint.

When asked to order a one-hour extension of the polling hours, Merrill "stated that she was unable to do so," the complaint said.

Daniel Reale, the Libertarian Party candidate for Congress in Connecticut's 2nd District, filed an intervening complaint, claiming Malloy sought an unfair advantage in asking for the Hartford polling hours to be extended.


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