Friday, November 5, 2010

Ground Zero for Election Irregularities?

What happens when the fairness of an election is questioned? Connecticut is ground zero for that question in 2010.

Bridgeport is Connecticut’s largest city and no doubt has far different challenges than smaller cities and towns but the Park City’s poor performance in elections is unacceptable. Unfortunately, the question of fairness of elections in Connecticut is burdened by Bridgeport’s history of poor performance.

Election Day 2010 is not the first time Bridgeport ran out of ballots. The 2007 municipal primary included charges of voting irregularities by a Democratic candidate for mayor when a polling place opened an hour late, poll workers were not trained in the operation of new ballot scanners and they ran out of paper ballots.

A close Democratic primary election in 2007 that came down to a couple hundred votes forced the loser to file legal action requesting the court to throw out the results. The state court refused to invalidate the results.

In the presidential election of 2008 Bridgeport was the center of attention in voter irregularities once again. This time ACORN, an organization in the middle of voter fraud across the country, submitted 8,000 voter registration cards in Bridgeport - many for persons who were incarcerated or underage. One voter registration card matched a 7-year old girl living in Bridgeport.

University of Connecticut students discovered 8,500 dead people on the voter rolls statewide in 2008. The Secretary of State quickly scrambled to assist local registrars in removing the deceased voters.

The Bridgeport election disaster continued this year when 250 absentee ballot applications were illegally obtained from local officials. Apparently two individuals listed their address as a vacant lot in Bridgeport.

On Election Day 2010 in Bridgeport the polls ran out of paper ballots AGAIN! The city has nearly 68,000 registered voters but only ordered 21,000 ballots. Several reports indicate most of the polling locations had long lines waiting for ballots to vote. Voters waited 90 minutes and more to vote. Many angry voters left the polling places without voting.

The Connecticut Democratic Party sued to hold the vote open past the 8:00 PM poll closing time. A state judge granted their request and ordered the polls remain open another two hours.

You can’t make up these stories but the nightmare continues.

Bridgeport election officials photocopied official ballots to cover the shortfall in official ballots. The photocopied ballots could not be read by the ballot scanners and were placed in separate locations. We soon discovered these ballots were never counted on Election night and were discovered two days later.

Democratic Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz has proven her ineffectiveness and incompetence as the state’s chief election official this year (thankfully her last year).

The day after the polls closed and Bridgeport had still not reported results Bysiewicz declared Democrat Dan Malloy the winner of the governor’s race. A short time later she sent an email message to registrars across the state saying final numbers were still a work in progress! Soon the Secretary of State’s office went into bunker mode. Republican Tom Foley was unable to get straight answers regarding Bysiewicz’s declaration.

The Bridgeport election officials finally got around to counting ballots on Thursday – over 36 hours after the polls closed in Connecticut. In a bizarre early morning press conference Mayor Bill Finch declared Dan Malloy the next governor of Connecticut.

Is anyone concerned about claims by state employee unions taking credit for Malloy’s victory. Does this mean we had a close election with a plurality of 5,000 votes out of over one million votes cast and the unions are doing a victory lap?

How did we get here? How did the mayor of Connecticut’s largest city become the Secretary of State? How did our largest city repeat glaring mistakes in elections? Why isn’t Connecticut concerned about voting irregularities?

I AM CONCERNED and as the Ranking Member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee I will submit legislation to address some of these election nightmares.