November 10, 2010

Call Him The "Official" Gov-Elect | New Haven Independent

Call Him The "Official" Gov-Elect New Haven Independent

(Updated) Nearly three days after polls closed, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announced Friday evening that Democrat Dan Malloy beat Republican Tom Foley to the governor’s seat by 5,637 votes. Foley’s campaign, however, said he still wasn’t satisfied with the accuracy of the “ever-changing” count.

Bysiewicz did not appear in person for the 6 p.m. press conference at the Capitol where the announcement was made. Through a spokesman, she released a statement with new numbers showing Malloy beat Foley by 566,498 to 560,861 votes. Her spokesman, Av Harris, said no recount is planned. A recount is triggered only when the vote margin is 2,000 or smaller.

“This is good news. We’ve always been confident that Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman won this election,” responded Malloy spokesman Brian Durand. Previously Friday, Foley refused to concede the race until he was confident in the accuracy of the results.

Foley’s spokeswoman Liz Osborn said the new numbers do not address Foley’s concerns, including those about “ever-changing vote totals.” She said she would comment further “once the campaign has been able to gain additional information requested of a number of municipalities and the Secretary of State.”

Bysiewicz’s announcement came hours after the town of Bridgeport finished a long, convoluted vote-counting process. Bysiewicz proclaimed Malloy the “unofficial” victor on Wednesday, based on unofficial vote tallies. On Friday, her spokesman said the total is “official,” but has yet to be certified. That certification will take place by Nov. 25, he said.

The announcement was the latest in a fast-paced day in an election that would not die.

Cops Hand-Deliver Bungled Tally
Cops drove from Bridgeport to Hartford Friday afternoon to deliver hard-copy results from a vote count that kept getting revised up until the last minute—and that purports to give Malloy the margin of victory to become Connecticut’s first Democratic governor elected since 1986.

The Bridgeport police were transporting documents containing the really truly we-mean-it (we-think) official vote count from the city of Bridgeport in Tuesday’s gubernatorial election. Those numbers kept changing for days after the election—even on Friday morning after Bridgeport’s mayor summoned the press to release putatively official figures.

The documents arrived at the office of Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz around 2:20 p.m. (They were also faxed there.)

Now Bysiewicz is expected to emerge in public again—a personally perilous proposition for her these days—at some point late Friday to declare Dan Malloy the winner, and perhaps answer a swirl of questions about how she has conducted this election.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party has made Freedom of Information requests to all 169 Connecticut cities and towns in anticipation of a possible statewide recount.

However you slice and dice the Bridgeport numbers, they do roughly show Dan Malloy capturing approximately a 13,000-vote victory in the city. That gives him approximately a 5,000 statewide victory, if the numbers hold up. (Click here for the secretary of the state’s latest honestly truly official statewide vote breakdown.)

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch announced results of his holdout city’s recount at a 6 a.m. press conference at the City Hall Annex on Broad Street. He said Malloy had beaten Republican Tom Foley 17,800 to 4,075 in Bridgeport. That’s enough to put him over the top of the otherwise official statewide vote count, the result of a process disputed over three days. Click here and here to read reports from overnight, including a dispute over a previously undisclosed sealed bag of uncounted 335 ballots.

Finch’s numbers did differ from the final tally prepared by his two city registrars after one final marathon vote-counting session. It lasted from 4:30 p.m. Thursday until 7:30 a.m. Friday. Their numbers, announced at 7:30 a.m: 17,042 to 4,099. Registrars posted those numbers on the wall at 7:30 a.m. The final numbers driven to Bysiewicz’s office differed very slightly again, by 4 votes.

But then there was another mess-up: The numbers came off the wall. Registrars said in their haste to put numbers up, they forgot to put some in.

At 8:47 a.m. registrars then called out the super-final, ultra-official numbers they will fax in to the state: 17,923 for Malloy (on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines) and 4,092 for Foley. Those vote totals did not to include ballots cast after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, of which there were 50 for Malloy an seven for Foley.

The final numbers driven to Bysiewicz’s office differed very slightly again, by 4 votes.

Never-Ending Election
Friday afternoon’s events followed yet another whirlwind day of post-election positioning, recalculation, and uncertainty.

Republican candidate Foley refused to accept the botched and still-evolving recount of votes in Bridgeport Friday morning, urging the state to wait a few days to nail down an accurate result of this week’s gubernatorial election.

At a 10:35 a.m. press conference in the lobby of Hartford’s Goodwin Hotel, Foley stopped short of vowing to challenge the results. Instead, he called for Secretary of the State to wait before announcing an official victor in the race. He said the state should take more days to study the numbers again, since in 20 communities the reported numbers kept changing for days after Tuesday’s election, including a 2,000-vote swing in his favor in Torrington in the secretary of the state’s count.

Click to watch highlights.

“We are being laughed at around this country,” Foley said. “I don’t want to create a situation where a result is declared here and then it’s changed ... Let’s just take our time.”

Will Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announce “official” results Friday?

As of noon, she wasn’t taking questions. Here’s what her communications director, Av Harris, wrote to reporters:

“As of 11:30 a.m. we still have not received the return from Bridgeport. Once the return is received by our office, the data will be entered to our computerized database. Then the result will be tabulated. Then the figures will be double and triple checked to make sure any errors are eliminated. When we are confident that we have a complete and accurate election result, then we will release it to you. Secretary Bysiewicz will not have anything to say until then. I appreciate your patience.

“Once again, I cannot tell you right now when this information will be available, but we are hopeful it will be today.

At his Friday morning press conference, Foley said he doesn’t “think anybody should be confident in these results based on what happened the past couple of days.”

“Until the numbers stabilize we don’t know what the actual count is going to be,” Foley said. “The people of Connecticut will benefit if I can say I believe in” the numbers.

“I spent seven months in Iraq,” he remarked. “I ‘m used to this. I don’t get on much of a roller coaster.”

Foley’s mood remained calm, reasonable as he took questions from reporters.

Unlike in previous days, Foley was no longer claiming that his internal numbers showed him in the lead. He said he’s not as “comfortable” about his showing as he was before. Instead, he emphasized the need to have numbers that everyone can believe in. He said a recount may be appropriate even if the margin is greater than the 2,000-threshold that automatically triggers one.

“When it’s reported that a bag of ballots showed up mysteriously, I think the citizens deserve to know more about that story. Where did they come from? Are they legitimate ballots? Should they be counted?”

Among those accompanying Foley Friday: His lawyer on this election’s developments, former U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor; and Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy.

Christine Stuart Photo
Kevin O’Connor confers with Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy,
who have been watching the matter closely on Foley’s behalf.

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