Judge Seeks Clarity Over Contested Democratic Primary Count
By Steven Goode
September 07, 2012
The second day of testimony in the disputed Democratic primary for the 5th statehouse district Thursday focused mainly on a hand-counted ballot for Windsor Democrat Leo Canty.
Canty, the heavily favored, party-endorsed candidate, and political newcomer Brandon McGee of Hartford, were tied at 774 votes each following the Aug. 14 primary.
Canty was declared the winner by a single vote following a recount in Windsor and Hartford, which makes up the 5th General Assembly District.
Hartford Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Iris Vazquez, a defendant in an elections complaint filed by McGee, took the stand Thursday to answer questions about the hand-counted ballot.
Vazquez told McGee's attorney, William Sweeney, that there was no record of the hand-counted ballot on any of the voting machine tapes used in the recount.
Superior Court Judge A. Susan Peck, seeking more clarity in an afternoon highlighted by confusion over dates and documents, asked Vazquez if the voting tapes were authenticated by the signatures of election officials without the hand count reflected on them.
"Correct, Your Honor," Vazquez replied. She is expected to return to the stand Friday.
McGee's complaint alleges that election officials improperly counted absentee ballots in Hartford and lost a ballot at a Windsor polling place.
Last Friday, Hartford Town and City Clerk John Bazzano, a defendant in the complaint, testified that he delivered 79 absentee ballots to the registrar of voters office. Election results, however, show that only 78 ballots were counted.
William Melley, who served as Windsor's head moderator, also testified Friday about the alleged missing ballot from John F. Kennedy Elementary School.
Melley testified that one vote each for Canty and McGee were rejected at the school polling place as a result of the hand recount.
Asked by Sweeney if those votes were rejected because of defective ballots, Melley replied that he didn't know.
The complaint also names Windsor Democratic Registrar of Voters Anita Mips, Windsor Town Clerk Agnes Pier, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the State Elections Enforcement Committee, Canty and Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks, who finished third in the primary.
The hearing is scheduled to resume Friday at 10 a.m. in Hartford Superior Court.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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