Second Recount Ordered In 5th District State Assembly Race
One Vote Separates Winner And Loser in Disputed Election
By STEVEN GOODE
September 14, 2012
HARTFORD —— Superior Court Judge A. Susan Peck on Friday ordered an highly unusual second recount in the disputed Democratic primary for the 5th General Assembly seat.
The party-endorsed candidate, Leo Canty of Windsor, was declared the winner of the Aug. 14 primary by one vote over political newcomer Brandon McGee of Hartford following a recount that concluded Aug. 21.
The outcome prompted McGee to file a complaint alleging that election officials improperly counted abstentee ballots in Hartford and lost a ballot at a Windsor polling place. The 5th District includes parts of Windsor and North Hartford.
Peck ordered a complete recount in Windsor's three voting districts and a recount of absentee ballots in Hartford's two districts.
She also ordered that all envelopes pertaining to absentee ballots in Hartford be examined and that any new evidence or sealed envelopes that are discovered in the sealed bags containing absentee ballots be brought to court for examination.
McGee's complaint alleges that a ballot cast for him went missing as a result of the recount in Windsor's second district at John F. Kennedy School. Originally 526 votes were cast there, but only 525 were counted during the recount.
Also at issue in Windsor is the fact that only 523 names of voters were crossed off by poll workers but at least 525 votes were cast. By state statute, a poll worker must cross off a voter's name before supplying them with a ballot.
Hartford Town and City clerk John Bazzano also testified that his office delivered 79 ballots for the 5th District race to the registrar's office. Only 78 were counted on election night and during the subsequent recount. Election officials have testified that they could not explain the discrepancy.
"What we need to do is get a handle on what may have happened with the absentee ballots," Peck said Friday.
McGee said in a statement Friday that he was grateful that Peck called for the recount and confirmed the allegations in his complaint that election officials improperly counted ballots and failed to follow regulations set forth by the secretary of state's office.
"It has been our claim that two missing ballots — one in Hartford and one in Windsor — are the result of major discrepancies and lack of adherence to elections statutes and regulations following the primary election on August 14," McGee said.
Peck appointed Kevin Reynolds, a lawyer and member of the Democratic State Central Committee, as special master for the recount, which is scheduled to be held in Windsor Monday evening and in Hartford Tuesday afternoon. Peck is scheduled to reconvene the hearing Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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