State Democratic Body To Rule On Hartford Vote Dispute
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
April 25, 2008
A disputed election in one of the city's Democratic town committee districts has landed in the lap of the party's state central committee.
The trouble stems from a city committee election held March 31 to fill the 7th District's 13 seats, which had been declared vacant because of a filing omission. A recount April 10 changed the night's original results, leaving one candidate feeling he had been unjustly bumped from the committee seat he thought he had won.
Kathy Evans, the committee's secretary, said Thursday she made a mistake in recording the votes on the night of the election. Evans said she did not discover the error until later and notified the town committee chairman, Sean Arena, who informed the affected candidates. Evans subsequently apologized to members of the committee for the gaffe, saying she did not mean to cause anyone undue distress or create deeper rifts in a town committee already divided by Hartford's often caustic politics.
But Douglas Green, who was declared a winner the night of the election only to be told later he had lost the seat to another candidate, wasn't mollified by Evans' explanation, and filed a complaint with the Democratic State Central Committee. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at the central committee's office on Allyn Street.
Interviewed this week, Green said it made no sense to hold an election and then many days later, behind closed doors and with no scrutiny, announce there had been an error and overturn the results. Green said he had even been sent a personal letter of congratulations from the city's Democratic registrar of voters and was provided a list of committee members containing his name.
It's hard to believe no mischief is afoot, he said.
"That night, they declared me the victor," Green said. "Everyone heard it. Everyone saw it. And to turn it around two weeks later? You take the list of tallied votes out of the room and then two weeks later you say you did a recount? Who do you think we are? Idiots?"
"I think they actually thought I was ignorant enough that I'd say, 'Oh. That's OK.' And then just go away," he said. "If there is a mistake on mine, who is to say their aren't other mistakes?"
Evans said she made an innocent mistake during a noisy, chaotic night. About two dozen candidates were competing for 13 seats, with approximately 60 sitting members of the town committee voting. Among the candidates, a slate of 13 names were running as a bloc.
When an individual voter indicated that he or she was supporting the slate, Evans said she put a check mark next to the names of each of those 13 candidates.
But in several instances, she said, she marked only 12 of the names. She only caught the error weeks later, when retabulating the results for an official list.
Her original error cost Shawn R. Holloway a seat. Holloway is the grandson of Prenzina Holloway, who was also on the slate and is a supporter of Mayor Eddie A. Perez.
"This is a very paranoid town committee, for some good reasons and some not good," Evans said. "But I seem to have blown it into another stratosphere. People are seeing ghosts in every corner."
"It was a simple mistake," Evans said. "People like to see this as some kind of a plot. But it is my job to record the votes and I just recorded them wrong."
At least one other town committee member said other mistakes in the tallying occurred.
Georgiana Holloway — not related to Shawn Holloway — said she cast a vote for Green but that vote was not recorded. "I did vote for Doug Green, and it is not listed there," she said.
"It was an unfortunate situation for both of us," Shawn Holloway said. "For something like that to happen, and then for the call to come two weeks later. Like I told [Green], if I was on the other side, I wouldn't be all that happy either."
"In fact, I wasn't too happy myself," he said. "That night I walked home a loser."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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