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Judge Orders New Election to Decide 5th House District Primary

After two recounts, Judge A. Susan Peck ordered a new election to break a tie in the Democratic primary race in the Fifth House District.

After five weeks, two recanvasses and one voter mistakenly labeled "deceased", Judge Susan A. Peck ordered a new election to decide the Democratic party's candidate in the 5th House District race.

Candidates Leo Canty and Brandon McGee joined council and involved parties from Windsor and Hartford in superior court Wednesday anticipating Peck's decision after a second recount ended with the two candidates tied.

Everyone also eagerly anticipated Peck's decision regarding a newly-admitted ballot — a ballot cast by an elderly Windsor woman who after having been erroneously labeled "deceased" by town elections staff prior to Primary Day had her ballot invalidated.

Staff from the Windsor town clerks office and Windsor Democratic Registrar of Voters Anita Mips confirmed that the woman is alive and resides at one of the town's three nursing homes.

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With the potential for the vote to swing the election in favor of either Canty of McGee, Peck said she felt it was necessary to allow the vote to count. Once opened, however, Peck observed a vote placed for Windsor Mayor Don Trinks, who placed a distant third in the primary race. 

"There's no question the court is unable to determine a result in this election," Peck told the court room after revealing the elderly woman's vote, a decision she struggled with because of each voter's right to privacy.

Ultimately, Peck said the general public's right to have an elected official and the voter's right to have her vote count outweighed the court's attempts to avoid revealing which candidate she placed a vote for.

Peck did, however, enter a court order to prohibit the publication of the woman's name.

"A second recount was done in an effort to try to determine the true result of this election based on the votes cast. We've exhausted all possibilities," Peck continued with respect to coming to the decision of calling for another election.

Counsel for all parties, including the plaintiff, McGee, and Canty, concluded that there was no other option but to conduct another election.

"Thank you, Mr. Mayor," Canty said in reference to the absentee vote that, if place for McGee, would have put Canty behind by one vote.

"This is exactly what I wanted to happen five weeks ago," Canty added. "On day one I wanted a re-vote."

Canty was declared the winner of the primary following the first recount, which concluded on August 21. Official primary results reported on Primary Day, August 14, revealed Canty and McGee were tied with 774 votes a piece.

Since the first recount, McGee has described the race as "a roller coaster ride."

McGee found himself on the way up on that ride Monday when he regained a vote in Windsor's second voting district — a vote on a ballot he believed went missing, and contributed to his filing of the court complaint.

According to McGee, he has been told the election will be held on October 2.

The winner of the primary race will be placed on the ballot against Republican candidate Paul Panos.

The incumbent state representative in the newly-formed Fifth House District (Windsor, Hartford), Marie Kirkley-Bey, has announced she will retire and will not seek re-election in November.

Bill Generous September 20, 2012 at 12:19 AM
The determination displayed by Brandon McGee just to bring this to a revote is a good indication of the effort he would make fighting for the citizens of House District 5. The constantly changing vote tallies over time in Windsor for this primary has been an education in how voting and vote counting works and doesn't work.
Al Simon September 20, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Yeah Bill. Brandon could have agreed with Leo Canty on August 15th to go to a revote as allowed by law. Instead, he thought he could win with a recount. When that didnt happen, he filed a lawsuit to overturn the recount, only to end up where we were on August 15th--a tie. Sounds like bad decision making to me, not determination.
Elvis Tejada September 20, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Viva the Democracy, viva the United States.
Catherine & Dennis September 20, 2012 at 01:51 AM
I agree Bill. Brandon did what he should have done, and what is more and more necessary in this Town, you have to file suit for right to happen. Anyone that read about this debacle could clearly see there was just one "mistake" after the other. I for one am not a believer in repeat coincedence. Will there be other people at the polling places this time to watch over handling of the ballots and insure accurate and fair counting so there are no mis-counts, lost, no wait- found, no wait wasnt missing in the first place, dead, arisen issues for pete's sake?
Bill Generous September 20, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Al, The August 15th tie was before any recounts whatsoever. It is mandatory for the Secretary of State's Office to call for a recount with an election that close. After the first recount, Leo Canty was ahead by 1 vote. I don't recall Leo Canty asking for a revote once he pulled ahead by 1 vote. It was smart decision making and determination to file a lawsuit after the first recount: There were inconsistencies in Windsor's numbers. Here is an example of a bad decision: Give a property tax break to a company that didn't need it to plant roots in Windsor.
Tim Curtis September 20, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I agree with Al Simon.  Leo Canty has been very consistent about wanting this to go straight to a revote, to have the election decided by the ballot and not by a judge's decision.  If Leo is about anything, it is about the power of the vote.  It is also my understanding that it was McGee's lawyer who didn't want that last absentee ballot opened, the ballot that was erroneously marked "deceased".  Sounds more like a lawyer protecting his client than someone wanting every vote to count in a recount.  As it turned out the ballot went to Don Trinks and the tie remains.
Albert Williams September 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Mr McGee did what his leagal rights allowed him to do, and it seems to be the norm for the town of Windsor these days...court. At least with this election they only counted votes, didn't have to rely on verifying names. Of course verifying 774 names would be quicker than say 1075!! Why on earth would Mr Canty want a revote with a one vote win? In my mind, if that's true people should clearly see he is simply not bright enough to hold public office...hold that, I just remembered who our public officials are. It’s time for some to stop whining like petulant children just because they didn't get their way and get this over with.
Teacher Mom September 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Mr. Canty wanted a revote from the start. All could have agreed. This legal wrangling was not good for anyone and probably very costly for both parties. What did it accomplish...a revote. We could have had this over long ago. Mistakes happen all the time when human beings are involved. There was no conspiracy here as some wrongly suggested in previous posts. Valuable time wasted when we could have had a vote.
james walsh September 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Regardless of all the noise on this topic, its great to hear we have another shot to vote for anoyone other than someone Al Simon is endorsing such as union lover Leo Canty.
Al Simon September 20, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Bill- the law says in a tie, 1 of 2 ways can resolve the matter. All candidates can agree to a revote, or if ANY candidate asks for a recount, the recount must happen. Canty wanted the revote, but Trinks and McGee wanted the recount. Once there is a recount, THERE IS NO MORE PROVISION for a revote. The ONLY option for a revote is if it remained a tie AND a judge ordered it. McGee wasted everyone's time and money (including taxpayer money) only to end where we started. McGee failed the first test of judgement in his quest for a win by technicality. And, Tim Curtis is correct. I was in court, and McGee's lawyer STRENUOUSLY argued for not opening the last ballot. It's unfortunate Bill, that you can't actually vote for this guy you think would be so good to represent a different part of Windsor than the one you live in.
Al Simon September 20, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Oh, and thanks for playing "Six degress of Dollar Tree" Didnt take long for you to connect this Democratic primary to your pet peeve.
Al Simon September 20, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Mr. Walsh- get your facts straight. I am a union lover. Leo Canty is an elected union leader, and a proud fighter for working families. Some of us think we need more people like that in the legislature.
Albert Williams September 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Wait until next fall, LOL.
Bill Generous September 20, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I appreciate the additional education on the law but it doesn't change my mind about the appropriateness of what McGee did to bring about a revote. Yes, I do not vote in the 5th district but that doesn't mean I don't have an interest in the make up of the elected leaders of this state. Al, you would know about wasting taxpayer's money (technically, getting less of it than is deserved). Here is another thing I like about McGee: I haven't heard him complaining about the other candidates.
R Eleveld September 20, 2012 at 02:32 PM
This is not my race, I was not in the Court and this is not my fight. However voting is something to be respected and that has no party affiliation. I can say in my opinion the Judge erred by not ordering a re-vote immediately. The reporting seemed to indicate several issues with missing ballot, questionable absentee ballot handling in Hartford and much later in Windsor. Those reasons should have been enough to cause the Judge to order a new vote. I am more curious how the State Financed campaign laws handle this?
Bill Generous September 20, 2012 at 08:09 PM
According to the Courant article, Leo Canty had mixed feelings about opening the absentee ballot from Windsor. I'm glad the vote went to Mayor Trinks and people present got a good laugh and were at least relieved they didn't lose. Remember how Leo Canty didn't want Mayor Trinks to run in the primary and be part of the vote? He got his wish.
Jane Mansur September 20, 2012 at 08:16 PM
It’s evident that we have some serious issues plaguing this town. There is a common theme here-how can the town be so negligent? Reactions appear to change each time new information came from the Town Hall. At times it appears like a Hollywood script, at times staged, almost criminal.
james walsh September 20, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Thanks for setting the facts straight Mr.Simon. So its clear for me now you and Canty are union lovers that tax and spend with out accountablity. Further reason to get out and vote for MCgee. GO MCGEE GO!
Catherine & Dennis September 20, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I agree with Ron here. Absolutely it should have been called much earlier. Maybe the Judge was taking an extra step to see if anything criminal did take place because the events were just so unbelievable? I too am interested in the same answer to Ron's question. And Al -you need to get YOUR facts straight. Instead of twisting everyone's meaning all the time with your over wash of Dollar Tree I am going off topic as you did to respond, though that had nothing to do with this instance, there were huge issues caused in the Dollar Tree debacle that have created distrust. We have requested that there be a Town meeting where folks get a chance to discuss those issues, have a workshop so that things are in place going forward so it does not happen again. It should be government of and by the people, not of and by Al, so why continue to ignore the request? Maybe begin with the farce where people get to speak for 3 minutes before and after a meeting but nothing happens with their comments. Look at the last Town Council meeting where a resident spoke to voice his concerns and the response was a vote to end the meeting. Respect Al, it is something that goes a long way. Catherine
Douglas Woods September 20, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I have to give credit to Brandon for taking this issue to the next level to get a "fair shake". It's a shame that it had to come to this. The unfortunate thing is that no matter what the results were, the majority of Windsor residents would have been somewhat skeptical given the track record of town government and some of the questionable decisions that have been made by our publicly elected officials over the past year. (Sometimes I am surprised that they can look at themselves in the mirror each day; I know I would not be able to). Although I am not able to vote in this specific election, I would love to help Brandon campaign and increase voter turnout. Go Brandon!!!
Julian McKinley (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 04:45 AM
For the sake of guiding this conversation away from the path of making accusations of criminal acts or intent, I should point out that Judge Peck said, on several occasions, that it's clear nothing malicious or intentional was done to affect the outcome of this race. She said on Friday that all matters in Hartford were settled, with all questions being answered, and Windsor staff recognized mistakes made prior to Primary Day.
Tim Curtis September 21, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I appreciate Julian McKinley's comment.  I read the Patch comments section to see various opinions on an issue, and not to read who can cleverly stick it to whom.  Reading some of the comments one wonders why anyone would want to run for office in this climate, no matter what position one takes on an issue. One can vehemently disagree without in the end having to resort to personal attacks or conspiracy theories to punctuate one's opinion.

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