Bungled To The End, Tally Goes To Malloy

(Updated) An all-night recount gave Democrat Dan Malloy a 13.000-vote lead in Bridgeport in the election for governor and 5,000 statewide—enough to give him the job.  Yet even after an “official” announcement Friday morning, voting registrars were still making adjustments to the tally.

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.

Thomas MacMillan PhotoBut 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.

Citing those discrepancies, Foley later Friday morning called for more recounting and for the secretary of the state to wait a few days before announcing an “official” result. (Read about that here.)

One reason for one of the discrepancies: Finch made his announcement at 6 a.m. The final vote count wasn’t ready yet. Finch acknowledged that. He said all that was left to be counted at 6 a.m. were ballots that had been cast after 8 p.m. Tuesday—when a judge allowed some precincts to stay open an extra two hours to accommodate people who hadn’t been able to vote when the city ran out of ballots earlier in the day.

Foley had been up by 8,409 votes without Bridgeport. Bridgeport’s final tally (whichever is used) puts Malloy comfortably ahead, by around 5,000 votes, more than double the 2,000-vote margin that would have triggered an automatic recount.

The registrar’s office concluded on Friday morning that 23,158 people cast ballots in Bridgeport. If the city ordered 21,000 ballots be printed, as has been reported, that could mean there were an extra 2,158 photocopied ballots to count by hand. A count of 335 of them late Thursday night took more than three hours.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz is expected later today to make an official announcement about the winner of the governor’s race.

Tom Foley has scheduled a press conference for 10:30 in the lobby of the Hartford office building that houses the law firm of Bracewell and Giuliani. Former U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor, who represented Foley in court on election night (over the issue of keeping the Bridgeport polls open late), works for that firm.

Meanwhile, conservative commentator Tom Scott declared, “Call in the feds.”

“Connecticut’s democracy has been mugged by the officials at every level who are responsible for administering an honest election in Bridgeport,” he wrote in a blog post.

Meanwhile, at 6 a.m. at the City Hall annex in Bridgeport—before, it turned out, the tally had been 100 percent completed—the mayor walked down a flight of stairs to face a line of TV cameras at the pre-dawn press conference.

“My role was not to supervise an election,” Finch said. “But when we found out there were problems, we reacted very swiftly ... to see that every vote was counted.”

“The sacred right to vote was protected. There were no hanging chads here.”

Finch also promised to look into the “inexcusable” mishaps that kept the city’s vote-count drag on more than a day past the legal Wednesday 6 p.m. deadline. He appointed a three-member panel to investigate the mistakes; a Nov. 16 public hearing at City Hall is scheduled at 7 p.m.

“This is not exactly the way we would like to see things done in Bridgeport,” he said.

Finch acknowledged that Bridgeport “let people down. It will never happen again.”

“I’m sure we’ll get sued,” he noted. “Cities get sued all the time.”

He chalked up the mishegas to “ineptitude in the process,” namely the decision to order too few ballots in a city with more than 60,000 registered voters.

It was still unclear Friday morning how many people ended up using the photocopied ballots that were rushed to polling places Tuesday and than had to be hand-counted—and recounted. (Not every voter necessarily marks a choice for governor; many other races were on the ballot.)

The Foley and Malloy camps sent representatives to the mayor’s press conference.

Chris Covucci (pictured), field director for the Foley campaign, took the mayor’s podium after he spoke. Covucci noted that discrepancies still exist between the final numbers and Wednesday night tallies that Bridgeport registrars originally planned to submit to the state.

However, those numbers would have increased Malloy’s victory margin even more than the new final numbers.

Covucci stopped short of promising a legal challenge. “I’m not sure,” he said when asked if Foley plans legal action.

“We just want to point out the discrepancies,” he said. “The tallying processes were flawed.”

State Democratic Party Chairman Nancy DiNardo said she’s happy that Dan Malloy has enough votes to claim victory officially and “happy that the whole thing is over.”

Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala (pictured)—one of two officials responsible for ordering the ballots—noted that other communities, too, ran out of ballots. She disputed the figure of widely quoted figure of 21,000 ordered ballots, though she didn’t provide an alternative number.

“We base the number of ballots we order on prior elections,” Ayala said. “The Republican and Democratic registrars agreed on that number.”

Republican Registrar Joe Borges said earlier in the evening that Ayala alone made the call.

“Who knew that President Obama was coming to Bridgeport [right before the election to whip up turnout]?” Ayala said.

One irony in the overtime vote-counting: Not only was the official tally deciding who will serve as Connecticut’s governor. It was also deciding that Ayala—who oversee this whole voting process—will serve another term as Bridgeport’s Democratic registrar of voters.

“Oh yeah,” a tired Ayala remarked when this fact was pointed out to her around 5:10 a.m. Friday. Running unopposed, she picked up 16,479 votes.

Are you looking forward to your next term? she was asked.

“Yes. Absolutely,” she responded.

Even after all this?

“Even after all this.”

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Comments

posted by: anon on November 5, 2010  6:52am

Nice to see Foley once again playing into the hands of the racists, calling for squad cars to show up and intervene (like the roadblocks in Florida, Foley?) even though there was no real issue here.

posted by: Charlie O'Keefe on November 5, 2010  7:42am

This has been such a screw up. There has to be a statewide recount to restore public faith in the system. All I can say is I’m so thankful Ms Bysewythch never got to the polls. Could there have been a more incompetent person in the State House??

posted by: Vinny G on November 5, 2010  7:58am

No real issues.  Are you serious?

posted by: John B on November 5, 2010  7:59am

Based on your article, the total final vote is slightly more than 21,000.

If they ordered 21,000 ballots, there should not have been a widespread shortage early in the day—only at the very end.  Much more went on than a simple shortage of ballots.

I am surprised your reporter (and all the other media) didn’t do the simple math and ask the obvious question.

[Editor’s Note: Agreed! We’ve been trying to nail that down ...  Part of the discrepancy may be that some 1,000 voters didn’t make a choice in the governor’s race, just other races ... That’s what Thomas MacMillan is concluding as of 9:20 a.m., when he just called in from the scene. Also, not all polling places ran out of ballots. So some presumably ran out earlier than others. There’s a distribution question in addition to the issue of how many total were ordered.]

posted by: Zak on November 5, 2010  9:39am

Election over.  The right wing has LOST!  Hopefully the sore losers will accept it and move on.

posted by: Tessa Marquis on November 5, 2010  9:57am

Anyone and Everyone who is concerned about the integrity of the vote should sign up to be a volunteer observer during the election Audits.

http://ctelectionaudit.org/sign-up-for-post-election-audits-now/

Training via Phone conference begins 11/11. Audits begin 11/17.

posted by: JAK on November 5, 2010  10:07am

Anon sees racism in an inept and corrupt election system?  Whose race are you talking about?  Finch?, Ayala? Borges? Bysewicz?

posted by: MR on November 5, 2010  10:10am

As of today, you can still sign up to be a “Potential Recount Volunteer” on the CT GOP site:

http://www.ctgop.org/2010/11/potential-recount-volunteer-sign-up/

posted by: CT Liberal on November 5, 2010  10:32am

Congratulations, Governor-elect Malloy!

posted by: Bill on November 5, 2010  11:03am

This reminds of a software engineer who used to print out a copy of his program and label is “latest”. After a while he had a dozen copies of his latest program.
Now we have several “latest/unofficial” vote counts.

posted by: truth teller on November 5, 2010  11:10am

It’s funny how they always bring out a bag of tricks during voting time in the poor neighborhoods where thy vote democratic. It did not work

posted by: Pedro Soto on November 5, 2010  11:28am

I think the phrase: Don’t assume malice when incompetence will suffice seems especially apt here. Think about it. If there was going to be some sort of huge conspiracy to fix this election in bridgeport, don’t you think that they would have printed *as many ballots as possible* ?

Rather than the chaos and people turned away by the hundreds, they could have still dragged out the process and done whatever theoretical improprieties were alleged this way.

It seems like the registrar of voters messed up in a huge and potentially career ending way, and that the law needs to be changed to require one ballot per registered voter, period.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on November 5, 2010  11:31am

John B & Paul,

Note that their were 11 different ballots in use in Bridgeport on Tuesday, that were not interchangeable. (6 different Connecticut House races, 5 of which had split State Senate districts). So an order of 21,000 ballots couldn’t have been for an estimated turn-out of 21,000 voters, but instead a turn-out more like 16-18,000.

Also note that in 2008 there were over 42,000 votes cast in Bridgeport, and in 2006 almost 21,000.

Add to that Ayala doing nothing to order more ballots, after Obama’s visit?

This Democrat wants to know if the ballot shortage was a Republican dirty trick. Because Bridgeport running out of ballots was a Republican’s dream come true, and apparently they would have had to pay off just one person. The woman ordering the ballots.

In the coming weeks I hope journalists will work to find out just how many ballots were ordered. My understanding is that in the Northeast there are just two printing companies that together handle the vast majority of ballot-printing.

And I think the entire state should ask Ms. Ayala to resign. What an embarrassment to us all.

posted by: Joef on November 5, 2010  11:52am

ZAC     We didn,t lose we took the house just in time to save the country from the liberal left. No more stupid stimulus that we can,t afford. LOOK UP INFOWARS…

posted by: Car Shipping Quote on November 5, 2010  11:52am

This just sounds like typical city government finger pointing, it’s a shame. At least the article tried to inject some humor into the situation.

posted by: angelo reyes on November 5, 2010  12:06pm

Ok,not enough ballots were ordered.Someone screwed up.The problem was fixed with a court order, and copies.For this republican party to go on crying wolf or cheater cheater pumpkin eater is a slap in the face to CT .
MAN UP REPUBLICANS
                              MALLOY BEAT U FAIR AND SQUARE!!!!!!!

posted by: DR on November 5, 2010  12:15pm

Open Office is free software that has a spreadsheet as one of its components. Maybe before the next election someone in Bridgeport can install it on one of the computers in the registrars’ office.

posted by: Greg Dildine on November 5, 2010  2:27pm

Thanks NHI for the reporting on this story!
You were the only news source with up to date info as it became available!

posted by: Zak on November 5, 2010  7:15pm

Can’t wait til Governor-Elect Malloy takes office.  Maybe he and the legislature can pass some meaningful single payer health care legislation and raise income taxes on the wealthy!

posted by: John B on November 6, 2010  3:13pm

To: Anderson Scooper

I wasn’t saying there was a conspiracy—-just a failure to look at the true math.  I have read media accounts saying that several thousands more voted than ballots ordered.  It just wasn’t the case.

I assume that the geniuses in charge ordered 2000 ballots for a location that normally gets 500 voters and 500 ballots for a location that normally gets 2000 voters—thus causing chaos.

But then the mayor’s office printed several thousand more ballots and distributed them to the wrong locations.  And a judge issues an order that the polls remain open but no one knows which polling places it applied to.

Incredible incompetence by many people—and with the Dems controlling most government positions, they have to take the bulk of the blame.

posted by: JBL on November 6, 2010  4:58pm

If 21,000 ballots were cast during the last Gubernatorial election (2006), why is it accepted as logical to simply order that many again? Why wouldn’t you order at least 10-15% more, just in case? And how is it the Republican Registrar claims he has no say in the number ordered?

WHY, is Santa Ayala singularly listed on the Bridgeport Registrar of Voters website as the Department Contact. Sure Joseph Borges is listed as the Republican Registrar, under Ayala in the center of the page, but on the bottom right is a section called “Department ContactS” with only Ayala listed, and with only her EMail given. No email is listed for Borges.

Go ahead and find me another City in CT with such an odd and subtle implied seniority.

What is going on in that office?

Speaking of which . . . with the MAJORITY of CT voters “unaffiliated” (aka registered as “Independent”) wouldn’t it make sense to have an Independent (non-party affiliated) Registrar in each municipality? Would that be too much to ask of the Oligarchy?

And what does it say about Bridgeport’s electorate that almost half stay home for the election of a Governor versus a President? What is that all about?

I voted for Malloy. There was never a question in my mind that I would. But it seems corruption is alive and well in Bridgeport and I agree with Tom Scott - this is a prime reason why we have a Federal Government and it should be reviewed at that level with a high degree of scrutiny and accountability.

In fact, I call on Malloy and Foley to hold a joint press conference and demand that the FEC and FBI both review the Bridgeport Registrar of Voters Office, their management of polling locations, their training and oversight of polling staff and a review of each moderators conduct.

Finally, allow a team of non-Bridgeport residents, versed in proper ballot accounting to conduct its own recount. Given the highly partisan reputation of the outgoing Secretary of State, this should be removed from her office entirely.

If what I have suggested is followed, only then can the people of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut feel confident that a proper accounting of the votes occurred in that City for this election.

In the meantime, Bridgeport better look within itself for big changes before 2012.

posted by: JBL on November 6, 2010  5:21pm

Angelo Reyes:

I am un-affiliated as they like to designate my kind here in Connecticut. In 2006 I voted for John DiStefano. This year I voted for Dannel Malloy. In fact, of all the offices I cast a vote for this year (9), I voted for one Republican (for Comptroller).

I take my anti-partisan, independent thinking approach very seriously. No non-partisan can read the accounts, watch the video and hear the reports of the last 4 days and 100% believe that Malloy won fair and square.

I want it to be the case that Malloy won fair and square. I really do.

Yet Santa Ayala and Joseph Borges have some very serious questions to ask of themselves and to be asked by others. And some very honest and possibly self-incriminating answers must be given. They owe it to the people of Bridgeport and they owe it to the State of Connecticut. And not to sound all grand and cheesy but they owe it to Democracy.

I have also been a poll worker. The process of counting ballots is a daunting process, particularly when so many candidates and offices need to be counted and recounted for verification. After 16 years on the job, you would assume that Ms Ayala would have this down to a science. Apparently not.

There are systems and ways to tally votes by hand that are efficient and leave all sides feeling confident that a proper count has been achieved.

I have yet to hear anyone from Bridgeport express such confidence. And I can tell you as an outsider having read the accounts and reports, and applying my own experiences, I have very little confidence that a proper count has been achieved.

The Secretary of State is a highly partisan individual who has willingly placed self and Party before State on a couple of recent occasions. I have little confidence in her ability to be thorough and objective in certifying this election.

Dannel Malloy and Tom Foley should prove to the people of Connecticut that this isn’t about them, but rather about the people of this State and an accountable Democracy above partisan snipes.

They can achieve this by agreeing to hold a joint Press Conference and request that the appropriate Federal Authorities be brought in to review this debacle. They should agree whatever the outcome of such a review, the loser will gracefully concede and step away from further challenges.

posted by: NewHavenerToo on November 7, 2010  9:44am

To Angelo Reyes:

The last time that we had a heart attack over possible voting fraud was during the Gore vs. Bush elections.  Just because Malloy is a democrat does NOT make it okay for us to dismiss what happened.

Discrepancies such as what happened at Wilbur Cross and the City of Bridgeport have brought to light issues that for all we know, has been long rampant and repeated. 

As usual, issues such as these have hugely been ignored before because there didn’t appear to be much at stake.

The impartiality and assurance that the voting being done at Bridgeport was non-existent as was displayed by the voting official at the tolls. 

This MUST stop.  Who actually answers for these people and the attitudes with respect as to how seriously this issue is taken?

I will be present at the next election and will take time out from my job and DO MY PART.