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Judge Expresses Concern Over Windsor Primary Election Proceedings

The fifth Assembly district primary election hearing continued Tuesday, as Judge A. Susan Peck reviewed the number of votes received, and expressed doubt in the actions of elections staff.

In what was the fourth full day in the hearing to determine the fate of the Democratic party's nominee for the fifth Assembly district, it all came down to a game of numbers in Hartford superior court, Tuesday.

After hearing testimonies delivered by elections staff from Hartford and Windsor over the past two weeks, Judge A. Susan Peck closely examined the numbers reported in the August 14 primary and subsequent recounts, leading her to reveal her doubts in the primary's proceedings, particularly in Windsor.

"The thing that's concerning to me is in (voting) district two Mr. Melley could not reconcile the number of voters' names crossed off... as a requirement of the secretary of state, names are to be crossed before [voters are] even handed a ballot," Peck said, referring to head Windsor election moderator Jay Melley's testimony that 523 total voters' names were checked off as having cast votes, but 525 ballots were counted by hand during the town's recanvass.

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Peck also expressed doubt regarding Melley's testimony that a machine malfunction could have caused a ballot to be read twice, accounting for the one vote Brandon McGee, the plaintiff in the case, lost. 

"526 votes were tabulated. There's no evidence there was anything wrong with the machine, and we can only account for 525 (ballots). Something went wrong there." she said. "I have no technical knowledge of this machine or of whether or not it malfunctioned. There's a missing vote nobody seems to be able to account for."

On September 7, attorney John Kennelly, who served as a statutory observer for the McGee campaign during the Windsor and Harford recanvasses,

Canty was named the winner of the primary by the secretary of state's office on August 21.

Despite Judge Peck's concern over the lack of adherence to secretary of state guidelines in Windsor's second voting district and an alleged missing ballot, she was clear in conveying the court's limitations with respect to taking action on an election in which a winner was declared by the secretary of state's office.

According to Peck, improper procedure, or even errors in ballot counts cannot move the court to take action if evidence fails to show the errors influenced the election's outcome.

Peck called for the hearing to reconvene on Wed., Sept. 19, and for counsel for all parties to deliver their closing arguments at that time.

Attorney Maura Murphy-Osborne, acting counsel for the secretary of state's office on behalf of the state attorney general, expressed concern over the length of the hearing with respect to federally-mandated deadlines associated with November's election.

According to Murphy-Osborne, the state must prepare ballots by the end of September, and the nature of the plaintiff's requests for court action may jeopardize compliance with those deadlines.

tchjjal September 12, 2012 at 12:50 AM
"Despite Judge Peck's concern over the lack of adherence to secretary of state guidelines in Windsor's second voting district and an alleged missing ballot, she was clear in conveying the court's limitations with respect to taking action on an election in which a winner was declared by the secretary of state's office". So, what the heck are they paying the lawyers and judge in this case for? The judge has no authority over a decision made by the secretary of states office? Sounds like someone else is on the take here or am I missing something?
Julian McKinley (Editor) September 12, 2012 at 12:57 AM
tchjjal, the judge does have authority, but she's saying the court, in this case, will only act if there's proof the election's outcome was altered by the errors or improper procedures.
Cari September 12, 2012 at 09:19 PM
This is proof "526 votes were tabulated. There's no evidence there was anything wrong with the machine, and we can only account for 525 (ballots). Something went wrong there." If no one can account for the missing ballot then the totals are not accurate which means the outcome of primary was inaccurate.
Catherine & Dennis September 13, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Based on your comment Julian and the judge's comments in the article it would appear there is enough evidence to act. The concern is once again Hartford (State) is involved in that the Secretary of State declared a winner already. None of this makes sense to me. Maybe since the stench is so bad here the Feds would be better suited to take a look....

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