Trumbull registrar of voters, like many in state, is uncertified, Hearst analysis shows

TRUMBULL — Nearly five years after Connecticut passed a law requiring registrars of voters to receive training and certification, nearly one out of every three registrars remain uncertified.

This means they have not passed a certification exam and, in some cases, have not even started the coursework.

Trumbull Republican Bill Holden is one of the holdouts.

The 2015 law aimed at strengthening Connecticut elections passed the state Senate unanimously and cleared the House by a 126-20 margin. When the law took effect Jan. 1, 2016, registrars had two years to complete 25 hours of training and pass a certification exam. Newly elected registrars have two years from taking office to become certified. Training classes center on topics like election law, maintaining voter lists, absentee voting, petitions and post-election audits.

A Hearst Connecticut Media analysis of registrars of voters from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office and the list of those who have completed the University of Connecticut’s registrar’s certification class shows that about 31 percent of Connecticut’s 339 registrars are not certified. Most of those are still within their two-year window to complete the training, but more than 20 are out of compliance with the law because their time limit has expired.

Holden, 71, has been the GOP registrar for 25 years and was one of the first to complete the certification classes. He also passed the section quizzes that the state administered after each class, but has never taken the exam.

Holden said he had several reasons for not taking the exam, which is an open-book, 50-question multiple choice and true/false test. The state website says it can be taken either at UConn’s Stamford campus or at the State Office Building in Hartford, although all tests currently listed take place in Hartford.

“The exam can take up to two hours, and driving to Hartford is a 2-1/2 hour round trip from Trumbull,” Holden said. “That’s half a day for a test that they could just email to us at home.”

Holden, who took his training classes at UConn’s Stamford campus, said the state emailed him a section quiz on the same day he took each of the eight required classes, which range from 2 to 4 hours long. He was required to complete the online quizzes within 48 hours of receiving them.

“Why can’t they send us the exam?” he said. “What are we going to do, cheat on an open-book test?”

Although he intends run for reelection in 2020, he all but confirmed he would still be out of compliance with state law when the Trumbull Republican nominating convention took place.

“We’re already into March now, and the nominations are in May,” he said. “I don’t envision that happening.”