Morales Primary Battle In 4th District Goes To Court
By JENNA CARLESSO
August 30, 2010
HARTFORD — — Whether state election officials properly handled absentee ballots for the 4th House District primary race is at the center of a court battle that began Monday.
Angel Morales, who lost the Democratic primary to incumbent state Rep. Kelvin Roldan, filed a lawsuit last week alleging improprieties in the way absentee ballots were managed, saying officials failed to keep boxes containing the ballots sealed from Aug. 10 until the recount. Morales lost by six votes.
Testimony began Monday at Superior Court in Hartford. Judge Edward S. Domnarski heard from the city's Democratic registrar of voters, Olga Vazquez, about the process by which votes are counted and the security measures taken to protect the ballots.
Asked if she received any indication that there was a problem with the security of the absentee ballots, Vazquez replied, "no."
Vazquez said that unofficial results put Morales in the lead on Aug. 10 — the day of the primary election — but by the next day, official numbers made Roldan the winner. Official results must be reported to the secretary of the state's office by 4 p.m. the day after the primary, she said, allowing time for workers to double-check the numbers.
According to the official results on Aug. 11, Morales lost by nine votes. That margin shrank to six votes, 382 to 376, after a mandatory recount on Aug. 16.
The lawsuit asks that the judge declare Morales the winner or order a new primary.
In the complaint, Morales states that shortly after the polls closed on Aug. 10, he was told by his own poll watchers and the Democratic registrar of voters that he had won, although the complaint does not specify vote totals.
"I'm looking for them to rule me as the winner," Morales said outside of court Monday. "Olga stated in her testimony that she heard I was the winner that night [of the primary]."
"It's up to the court now. I trust our judicial system is fair," said Morales, a convicted felon who says he has turned his life around and has been active in city Democratic politics.
Christopher Drake, an attorney representing Roldan, filed a motion for dismissal Monday, saying the complaint missed the deadline for filing. Under state law, such complaints must be filed within 14 days after a primary election. The case was filed electronically after 5 p.m. — the end of the business day — on Aug. 24, Drake said.
Robert F. Ludgin, Morales' lawyer, said attempts were made to file the complaint earlier, but difficulties with the electronic filing prevented him from doing so. Domnarski denied the motion for dismissal.
Testimony is expected to resume Wednesday.
State Rep. Kenneth Green also has filed a lawsuit challenging the results in his two-vote loss to city Councilman Matthew Ritter in the 1st House District primary. Testimony in that case is expected to continue Tuesday in Superior Court in Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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