Winner claims judge can’t order Stratford election do over
BRIDGEPORT - Lawyers for the secretary of state and apparent winning Stratford state house candidate Phil Young argued Tuesday that a judge does not have the legal right to order an election do over.
“Under the Connecticut constitution the authority over elections belongs to the General Assembly not judges and it’s been that way since 1818,” Young’s lawyer William Bloss, told Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis before a packed courtroom. “This case is not for the court to decide.”
But James Feehan, who in a recount lost to Young in the contest for the 120th District by 13 votes, retorted that only through the court can he get a fair shake.
“He (Young) wants a legislative committee ruled by his party to make a decision. The people in my community are upset this has happened and is not being addressed and I’m hopeful a judge will see that.”
Bellis said she will consider the arguments and continued the hearing for Monday morning. The deadline for the secretary of state’s office to certify an election is Nov. 28.
Young, the democratic incumbent, was declared the winner in the election following a recount by a 13-vote margin over Republican challenger Feehan. The total was 5,222 votes to 5,209.
Feehan, who is represented by Proloy Das, is asking Bellis to throw out the results and order the state and the town to hold a new election for the district.
“Absent a new election in the 120th assembly district the winner of the election for the position of state representative for the 120th assembly district cannot be known,” Feehan states in his request.
Voting for both the 120th district and the 122nd assembly district was held at Bunnell High School. But around midday a voter for the 120th district noticed he had been handed a ballot for the 122nd. Young and Feehan were not on the ballot for the 122nd.
It was determined that a packet of ballots for the 122nd district had been given out to voters for the 120th.
After the election, the Registrar of Voters discovered that in the 120th district 1,575 voter names had been crossed off the official checklist but only 1,499 ballots had been processed, a difference of 76 fewer ballots than voters, according to court papers. The checklist of the 122nd, 952 names had been crossed off the official checklist, but 1,031 ballots processed, a difference of 79 more ballots than voters.
“The recanvas did not address the ballot discrepancy between the 120th and the 122nd assembly districts, which calls into question the integrity of the election,” Feehan contends. “Plaintiff wishes to assure that all properly registered voters of the 120th assembly district who were denied the right to vote in the 120th assembly district election will have the opportunity to vote and have their vote counted.”