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Conn. Governor Election Inching toward Resolution

Friday, 05 Nov 2010 06:55 AM

 

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HARTFORD, Conn.  — Connecticut's race for governor is inching toward a resolution.

Local officials worked through the night and into Friday morning to tally votes in the state's largest city to resolve a race that has been in question since Election Day.

A final unofficial vote tally was expected from Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz on Thursday afternoon. But, she had not yet received the final count from Bridgeport, where a ballot shortage on election night forced officials to improvise and make photocopies. They had been due on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Now, those results were expected early Friday morning.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch has called a sunrise news conference Friday to announce the vote results.

The announcement was to follow an ambitious effort by Bridgeport election officials to tally the votes, precinct by precinct. The count started at approximately 3 p.m. Thursday, and officials worked through the night.

The final pronouncement will come after both Democrat Dan Malloy and Republican Tom Foley claimed victory in Tuesday's election.

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 said 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."

Arthur Laske, Bridgeport's deputy city attorney, denied Foley's allegations that the ballots had suddenly been discovered. He said both campaigns were informed Tuesday evening the photocopied ballots were being kept under seal until enough elections staff were available to hand-count them.

Laske calls Foley's assertions irresponsible and said the candidate mischaracterized how the ballots have been handled.

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," said Boughton, adding how the campaign has not made any decisions regarding legal options.

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."

Both Foley and Malloy began forming transition teams Wednesday in anticipation of becoming Connecticut's 88th governor, succeeding the retiring Rell.

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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