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State Primary Thriller Not Over Yet

5th Assembly District: Voters are sovereign, despite twists

Hartford Courant Editorial

September 20, 2012

Seldom if ever in Connecticut has there been a more interesting, complicated, surprising and close election than the primary to choose a Democratic nominee for state representative in the 5th Assembly District.

This election had everything: a rare two recounts, procedural muffs, a supposedly lost absentee ballot, an allegedly deceased voter who was found to be alive and a reassuring emphasis on letting the voters have their say. And it isn't over yet.

The result of the Aug. 14 primary election and the two recounts is that Brandon McGee of Hartford is tied with party-endorsed candidate Leo Canty of Windsor at 774 votes each. (An element of irony: Mr. Canty had lobbied lawmakers persuasively to redraw the district to include much of Windsor, so that the large town might finally get its own representative. He was a heavy favorite.) There will be a revote on Oct. 2 to try to determine a winner.

What made this exercise in democracy special were those who kept faith with the notion of voter sovereignty.

The Canty-McGee contest could have immediately gone to a revote after the primary if all parties agreed. But Mr. McGee wouldn't let the initial results the will of the people be so casually thrown out. He instead asked the Superior Court to find answers to this election's mysteries. He was right to file a complaint.

And Judge A. Susan Peck was right to open the envelope marked "deceased" containing the uncounted absentee ballot of the voter found to be living after all. That vote might have broken the deadlock had it been cast for Mr. Canty or Mr. McGee. It was, instead, cast for a third candidate.

Judge Peck had balanced the woman's right to a secret ballot against her right to have her vote counted, and wisely chose the latter.

It was a good day for democracy.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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