Conn. City Denies GOP Claim About Ballots

Thursday, 04 Nov 2010 09:16 PM

 

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The deputy city attorney for Bridgeport, Conn., is denying allegations by the Republican candidate for governor that a bag of uncounted ballots was recently discovered.

Arthur Laske (las-KEE') on Thursday night said the campaigns for Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy were informed Tuesday evening the photocopied ballots were being kept under seal until enough elections staff were available to hand-count them.

Photocopied ballots were used after officials ran out of regular ballots on Election Day.

Foley says it's unclear where the ballots originated and whether they are valid. He wants them impounded.

Laske calls Foley's assertions irresponsible. He says Foley mischaracterized how the ballots have been handled.

Both Malloy and Foley have claimed victory in the race to replace retiring Republican M. Jodi Rell.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's top election official said Thursday she still did not have the final vote totals in the disputed race for governor, and the Republican candidate claimed a bag of uncounted ballots had been discovered.

Both Democrat Dan Malloy and Republican Tom Foley have claimed victory in Tuesday's election.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz had intended to announce the final unofficial tally Thursday afternoon. Instead, she said she still had not received the final count by Wednesday's 6 p.m. deadline from Bridgeport, where a shortage of ballots on election night forced officials to improvise and make photocopies.

"We don't know when we're going to receive their numbers," said Bysiewicz, who said her office didn't expect the completed return on Thursday night.

Bridgeport election officials said they would continue into the night to finish their work.

Bysiewicz, relying on a combination of unofficial returns from cities and towns and unofficial tallies she received over the phone, announced Wednesday that Malloy had defeated Foley by more than 3,000 votes out of more than 1.1 million cast.

Foley says he does not trust the numbers. On Thursday night he issued a statement claiming a bag of photocopied ballots had been discovered during the counting of ballots in Bridgeport.

"It is unclear where these ballots originated, where they have been for the last two days and whether they are valid ballots," Foley said. "This is a very serious matter, and the state police should immediately impound them until their origin, chain of custody and validity is determined."

Bridgeport officials refused immediate comment on the discovery.

Foley's running mate, Mark Boughton, told reporters that the campaign had noticed fluctuations throughout the day in the vote totals, including a 2,000-vote change in Foley's favor in Torrington. He urged election officials not to rush the counting and suggested Bysiewicz triple check the numbers.

"Let's take our time, folks," he said.

Bysiewicz spokesman Av Harris said it's not unusual for towns to send in amended vote tallies. He said the results on the secretary of the state's website have been checked several times by teams of election officials and attorneys to make sure what's on the Internet is accurate.

The unofficial results from 168 of 169 cities and towns, posted on the website, show Foley with 556,787 votes on the Republican line; Malloy with 548,378 from the Democratic and Working Families Party lines; and Independent Tom Marsh with 17,543 votes. The list does not include vote tallies from Bridgeport, which was expected to tilt strongly in favor of Malloy.

The Associated Press count shows Malloy with 565,508 votes and Foley with 559,268, a lead of 6,240 for the Democrat. The count includes a report that Bridgeport election officials provided the AP on election night, showing that with 15 of the city's 25 precincts counted, Malloy had 19,148 votes and Foley had 6,502 votes. Bridgeport officials would not confirm those numbers Thursday, nor would they provide the AP with any updates of their vote count.

The Bridgeport report provided to the AP is in line with past voting in that town. President Barack Obama, who campaigned there last weekend, won 83 percent of the town's vote in 2008; and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, the 2006 Democratic nominee for governor, won 56.5 percent of the town's vote in an election where Republican Gov. Jodi Rell won 63.2 percent statewide.

The Democratic registrar of voters in Bridgeport, Sandi Ayala, said Thursday that the vote-counting is done but wouldn't say why the results haven't been given to Bysiewicz.

Malloy said Wednesday that his numbers show he won by at least 11,000 votes, while Foley said his numbers showed him winning by just under 2,000 votes.

Malloy's campaign manager, Dan Kelly, remained confident that Malloy will ultimately be elected the first Democratic governor of Connecticut since William O'Neill left office in 1991.

"Since early Wednesday morning we have said we're 100 percent confident that when the final vote is certified Dan Malloy will be declared the winner by a margin comfortably outside what is necessary to trigger a recount," Kelly said. "Nothing that's happened since has changed that."

Foley said Thursday afternoon that he still believed he had won.

"Until we have final numbers from the towns that are not going to be amended, I don't think anybody should be calling the race," he said. "I think everybody should stand back and focus on getting accurate numbers. We believe that after all the votes are accurately tabulated that we will have won."

Voting problems in Bridgeport have become a major issue. A ballot shortage Tuesday led to long lines and reports of people leaving polling places without voting. Because of the problems, a state judge ordered a dozen polling places in the city to remain open until 10 p.m., two hours after polls closed elsewhere.

Bridgeport elections officials gave some voters photocopied ballots and counted those by hand instead of running them through optical-scan machines.

Republicans voiced concerns about the photocopied ballots and the extended voting hours and criticized Bysiewicz for declaring Malloy the winner based on unofficial vote totals. But the GOP hasn't filed any formal complaints, state GOP Chairman Chris Healy said.

The race won't be officially certified until Nov. 25.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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