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Bungled To The End, Tally Goes To Malloy

by Thomas MacMillan | Nov 5, 2010 7:36am
(0) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2010

Thomas MacMillan photo

Election official tapes results to the wall

(Updated 8:24 a.m.) An all-night recount in Bridgeport gave Democrat Dan Malloy a 13.000-vote lead in Bridgeport in the election for governor and 5,000 statewide—enough to give him the job. Yet even after an “official” announcement Friday morning, voting registrars were still making adjustments to the tally.

Mayor Bill Finch announced results of the recount at a 6 a.m. press conference at the City Hall Annex on Broad Street. He said Malloy had beaten Republican Tom Foley 17,800 to 4,075 in Bridgeport. That’s enough to put him over the top of the otherwise official statewide vote count, the result of a process disputed over three days. Click here and here to read reports from overnight, including a dispute over a previously undisclosed sealed bag of uncounted 335 ballots.

Thomas MacMillan photo

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch

Finch’s numbers did differ from the final tally prepared by his two city registrars after one final marathon vote-counting session. It lasted from 4:30 p.m. Thursday until 7:30 a.m. Friday. Their numbers: 17,042 to 4,099.

Finch’s numbers did differ from the final tally prepared by his two city registrars after one final marathon vote-counting session. It lasted from 4:30 p.m. Thursday until 7:30 a.m. Friday. Their numbers, announced at 7:30 a.m: 17,042 to 4,099. Registrars posted those numbers on the wall at 7:30 a.m.

But then there was another mess-up: The numbers came off the wall. Registrars said in their haste to put numbers up, they forgot to put some in.

At 8:47 a.m. registrars then called out the super-final, ultra-official numbers they will fax in to the state: 17,923 for Malloy (on the Democrtic and Working Families Party lines) and 4,092 for Foley. Those votes appear not to include ballots cast after 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Citing those discrepancies, Foley later Friday morning called for more recounting and for the secretary of the state to wait a few days before announcing an “official” result.

One reason for this one last discrepancy: Finch made the announcement at 6 a.m. The film vote wasn’t ready yet. Finch acknowledged that. He said all that was left to be counted at 6 a.m. were ballots that had been cast after 8 p.m. Tuesday—when a judge allowed some precincts to stay open an extra two hours to accommodate people who hadn’t been able to vote when the city ran out of ballots earlier in the day. It turned out there were only 57 votes cast for governor after 8 p.m.

What was odd: Finch actually offered a number for Foley that was too big. At first. (Once the registrars put up the final numbers, we’ll find out.) But the discrepancy should not make a difference in the statewide tally: Foley had been up by 8,409 without Bridgeport. Bridgeport’s final tally (whichever is used) puts Malloy comfortably ahead, by around 5,000 votes, more than double the 2,000-vote margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz is expected later today to make an official announcement about the winner of the governor’s race.

Tom Foley has scheduled a press conference for 10:30 in the lobby of the Hartford office building that houses the law firm of Bracewell and Giuliani. Former U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor, who represented Foley in court on election night (over the issue of keeping the Bridgeport polls open late), works for that firm.

Meanwhile, conservative commentator Tom Scott declared, “Call in the feds.”

“Connecticut’s democracy has been mugged by the officials at every level who are responsible for administering an honest election in Bridgeport,” he wrote in a blog post.

Meanwhile, at 6 a.m. at the City Hall annex in Bridgeport—before, it turned out, the tally had been 100 percent completed—the mayor walked down the stairs to face a line of TV cameras at the pre-dawn press conference.

“My role was not to supervise an election,” Finch said. “But when we found out there were problems, we reacted very swiftly ... to see that every vote was counted.”

“The sacred right to vote was protected. There were no hanging chads here.”

Finch also promised to look into the “inexcusable” mishaps that kept the city’s vote-count drag on more than a day past the legal Wednesday 8 p.m. deadline. He appointed a three-member panel to investigate the mistakes; a Nov. 16 public hearing at City Hall is scheduled at 7 p.m.

“This is not exactly the way we would like to see things done in Bridgeport.”

Finch acknowledged that Bridgeport “let people down. It will never happen again.”

“I’m sure we’ll get sued,” he noted. “Cities get sued all the time.”

He chalked up the mishegas to “ineptitude in the process,” namely the decision to order too few ballots in a city with more than 60,000 registered voters.

It was still unclear Friday morning how many people ended up using the photocopied ballots that were rushed to polling places Tuesday and than had to be hand-counted—and recounted. (Not every voters necessarily marks a choice for governor; many other races were on the ballot.”

Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa “Sandi” Ayala—one of two officials responsible for ordering the ballots—noted that other communities, too, ran out of ballots. She disputed the figure of widely quoted figure of 21,000 ordered ballots, though she didn’t provide an alternative number.

“We base the number of ballots we order on prior elections,” Ayala said. “The Republican and Democratic registrars agreed on that number.”

Republican Registrar Joe Borges said earlier in the evening that Ayala alone made the call.

“Who knew that President Obama was coming to Bridgeport [right before the election to whip up turnout]?” Ayala said.

The Foley and Malloy camps sent representatives to the press conference.

Thomas MacMillan photo

Chris Covucci of the Foley campaign

Chris Covucci, field director for the Foley campaign, noted that discrepancies still exist between the final numbers and Wednesday night tallies that Bridgeport registrars originally planned to submit to the state.

However, those numbers would have increased Malloy’s victory margin more.

Covucci stopped short of promising a legal challenge. “I’m not sure,” he said when asked if Foley plans a challenge.

“We just want to point out the discrepancies,” he said. “The tallying processes were flawed.”

Thomas MacMillan photo

Santa Ayala, Registrar of Voters

State Democratic Party Chairman Nancy DiNardo said she’s happy that Dan Malloy has enough votes to claim victory officially and “happy that the whole thing is over.”

Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa “Sandi” Ayala—one of two officials responsible for ordering the ballots—noted that other communities, too, ran out of ballots. She disputed the figure of widely quoted figure of 21,000 ordered ballots, though she didn’t provide an alternative number.

“We base the number of ballots we order on prior elections,” Ayala said. “The Republican and Democratic registrars agreed on that number.”

Republican Registrar Joe Borges said earlier in the evening that Ayala alone made the call.

“Who knew that President Obama was coming to Bridgeport [right before the election to whip up turnout]?” Ayala said.

One irony in the overtime vote-counting: Not only was the official tally deciding who will serve as Connecticut’s governor. It was also deciding that Ayala—who oversee this whole voting process—will serve another term as Bridgeport’s Democratic registrar of voters.

“Oh yeah,” a tired Ayala remarked when this fact was pointed out to her around 5:10 a.m. Friday. Running unopposed, she picked 16,479 votes.

Are you looking forward to your next term? she was asked.

“Yes. Absolutely,” she responded.

Even after all this?

“Even after all this.”

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