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Legal Fight Over Legislative Primary Continues

Oral Arguments Were Friday

By Jeff Cohen

September 03, 2010

The legal fight over a Hartford-area state legislative seat saw closing arguments Friday. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.

Unofficial results from the August 10 Democratic primary showed incumbent state Representative Ken Green with a two-vote lead over Hartford City Councilman Matt Ritter. But a mandatory recount left Ritter the winner by two votes. Green then filed suit, saying that the election was full of errors by poll workers in Bloomfield and Hartford.

Green's attorney Steven Seligman says his campaign was not given designated poll workers. He also says that poll workers counted the absentee ballot of a man who died before the primary.

Seligman told the court that the only way to fix the problem is to have a new primary, because errors on the day of the election call the entire process into question.

“There were errors of elections officials that make the vote count fundamentally unreliable.”

A big issue before the court seems to be whether that unreliability actually impacted the outcome of the race. Again, Seligman:

“I don’t have to prove in Mr. Green’s behalf that the absence of his designated officials made a difference. But it did.”

Ritter’s attorney, Daniel Krisch, sees it differently.

“To the extent that your honor finds any violations or mistakes they weren’t substantial. And more importantly, as your honor spent a few moments discussing with attorney Seligman, he’s failed to prove that any of those violations or mistakes, if substantial, placed the result of the primary seriously in doubt.”

Krisch says to hold a new primary would be a rare and unnecessary act of judicial intervention in the election process. He also says it would disenfranchise some of the voters who made it to the polls on August 10. Instead, Krisch said, the judge should leave the election alone, because Selgiman hasn’t proven his case.

“All he’s proven is what’s always true in a democracy, which is that elections are never absolutely perfect.”

Arguments continued Friday afternoon. A decision is expected with the next couple of weeks.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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