A Superior Court judge is expected to rule Tuesday on whether the city council has the authority to remove Hartford’s three registrars of voters. Judge Constance Epstein will also decide whether to grant an injunction, sought by attorneys for the registrars, that would stop the removal hearings from going forward. The hearings are scheduled to begin Tuesday at 3 p.m.. A decision by Epstein on whether the hearings may move forward is expected by 2:30 p.m., the judge has said. The council in January began the process of seeking to remove the registrars — Democrat Olga Vazquez, Republican Sheila Hall and Working Families Party member Urania Petit — following problems on Election Day that caused some polling places to open late, delaying voting.
The council in the fall had authorized an investigation into the registrars’ office. The investigating committee issued a scathing report in January that described the office as a toxic, dysfunctional work environment in which officials barely communicate with each other. The report also noted that the accuracy of Hartford’s final vote tally was in doubt.
Later that month, the council voted to hire attorney Ross Garber, who then drew up charges against the registrars. Those charges were upheld by the council in March.
The removal hearings, at which the registrars may present evidence and call witnesses, were originally set to begin last week, but were postponed due to the injunction applications.