Testimony Ends In 5th General Assembly District Election Complaint
By STEVEN GOODE
September 12, 2012
HARTFORD —— Testimony continued Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court in the dispute over the Democratic primary for the 5th General Assembly District, this time focusing on absentee ballots counted in the Hartford portion of the district.
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.
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.
McGee's attorney, William Sweeney, spent the morning questioning the two election officials in Hartford responsible for absentee ballots about how the absentee ballots were handled. He also questioned them about the discrepancy between the number of ballots that were received by the city clerk's office and the number that were counted on primary night and during the subsequent recount.
Hartford Town and City Clerk John Bazzano testified previously that his office delivered 79 absentee ballots to the Hartford Registrar of Voters office, but only 78 were counted by the moderators.
Assistant Absentee Ballot Moderator Martin Jones testified Tuesday that he counted 78 absentee ballots on election night and also counted 78 during the hand count in the recanvass on Aug. 21.
Jonathan Beamon, an attorney for the city, also asked Bradley Jones, the head absentee ballot moderator, if the total number of absentee ballots counted was 78.
"Yes," Bradley Jones said.
Asked if he could explain the discrpancy, Bradley Jones answered, "I can't explain it."
Following the conclusion of testimony, Sweeney told Superior Court Judge A. Susan Peck that he was still seeking a court order to unseal the absentee ballots because there was no explanation about the missing absentee ballot.
"We have wholesale questions of the validity of what went on here, especially in the city of Hartford," Sweeney said.
Peck cautioned Sweeney that though there may have been things done that don't "follow the letter of the law" the outcome of the election was not necessarily called into question.
Peck added that she was concerned about the fact that 525 ballots were cast in Windsor, but poll workers only crossed off 523 names, violating state law. She also expressed concern about a vote that was taken away from McGee in Windsor after the recount.
"Five hundred twenty six went through the machine but we can only account for 525. Something went wrong here," Peck said.
Vincent Oswecki, an attorney for the Town of Windsor, argued that a lost vote didn't necessarily equal a lost ballot, as the complaint has alleged.
Last week, Windsor's head moderator, William J. Melley, testified that a ballot for McGee may have been counted twice by the tabulator, causing the discrepancy.
Sweeney ended his argument by saying "there's two votes [in question] in a one-vote election. That's a lot."
Peck is expected to continue listening to closing arguments Sept. 19, beginning at 2 p.m.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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