Regardless of your political affiliation, this mess puts us in the same class as the "hanging chads" debacle in Florida.
Bysiewicz: Malloy Winner Of Governor's Race; AP Now Shows Foley Ahead
Republican Not Ready To Concede
By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, ERIC GERSHON And JON LENDER, email@example.com
11:06 PM EDT, November 3, 2010
Democrat Dannel Malloy was declared the winner of the dead-heat governor's race Wednesday by the state's top elections official, but the Florida-style election is not over: Republican Tom Foley not only refused to concede Wednesday, he claimed victory.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said that Malloy won by an unofficial margin of 3,100 votes ? and that state law allows recounts in statewide races only when the margin is lower than 2,000 votes.
But the Associated Press said late Wednesday night that its vote count now shows Foley with a lead of 8,424 votes over Malloy, with all but 1.5 percent of the precincts counted. Based on that count, the AP said, it was withdrawing its call of Malloy as the winner.
Bysiewicz did not reveal the exact totals for the candidates in each town, saying they would not be available until today.
Adding to the controversy, Foley said Wednesday that he was forming a transition team to smooth the way for taking office ? on the same day Malloy announced his own transition team.
Despite Foley's actions, Malloy told reporters several times at the state Capitol that he is confident he will be sworn in as the next governor on Jan. 5.
"I'm standing by those numbers," Malloy said, adding that he believes he won by more than 11,000 votes. "I'm confident that will stand up."
Casting further doubt on the numbers, political insiders said Wednesday night that the vote counts for Malloy in Bridgeport and New Haven could have been too high by thousands of votes ? meaning that Foley could have scored better in those Democratic-dominated cities than previously believed.
Malloy campaign manager Dan Kelly responded to the AP numbers late Wednesday: "We are aware what the AP is reporting, and we're confident they're wrong. Their numbers for New Haven are wrong, and they're leaving out a significant number of votes in Bridgeport."
The race was the closest governor's election in Connecticut in more than 50 years, dating back to Democrat Abe Ribicoff's victory in 1954. He won that year by 3,115 ? almost the same unofficial margin as Malloy.
Malloy announced that his running mate, Nancy Wyman, and longtime Democrat Timothy Bannon will co-chair his transition team. Bannon, a member of the administration of the last Democratic governor, William A. O'Neill, also will be Malloy's chief of staff.
"I want to be at least as good a governor as Abe Ribicoff was. I think he won by 3,000,'' Malloy said in his first formal news conference since the election. "We are transitioning. Period. I am quite confident about what is going to happen and what the outcome is going to be. The people of the state of Connecticut expect an administration to take office on Jan. 5 to deal with the massive issues that confront Connecticut: jobs, electric rates, balancing the budget. I have got to move forward. The people of Connecticut, I believe, hired me to do just that.''
While Malloy's supporters were celebrating and smiling, Foley was still battling. Speaking to reporters at his campaign headquarters in Stamford, Foley said "We see ourselves as up less than 2,000 votes.''
He said his campaign has been in touch with Bysiewicz's office and plans to go over her office's numbers, town by town, to identify any discrepancies.
Republican Party representatives have said they might challenge the legality of votes cast after 8 p.m. in Bridgeport on Tuesday. Some polling places in that city were kept open until 10 p.m. after officials ran out of ballots. But Foley said the number of citizens who voted after 8 p.m. may not be "significant number."
Foley, who had not spoken yet to Malloy, said that he and his campaign did not want to hold up a decision in the race but that "the future of Connecticut ... is at stake."
Republican Jerry Farrell, the state's consumer protection commissioner who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of the state, criticized Bysiewicz and compared the situation to the controversial presidential election in Florida in 2000.
"There should be a recount, absolutely,'' Farrell told reporters. "It is extremely premature and prejudicial for the chief elections official of our state to be declaring that there will not be a recount based on numbers that are not certified and are 'unofficial' in her own words.''
Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield said the Republican Party should wait before taking any legal action, and he, too, criticized Bysiewicz.
"I don't think our party should go to court right now,'' McKinney told reporters in the state Capitol press room on Wednesday afternoon. "I think that we should wait until there is an official result.''
The election results had been delayed Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning after a judge ordered a two-hour extension of voting at some sites in Bridgeport.
The voting extension was expected to help Malloy in the Democrat-dominated city. The hand-counting of photocopied ballots in Bridgeport finished by 7:15 a.m. Wednesday. Malloy won the city, 19,148 to 6,502, according to the city's registrar's office.
Bysiewicz said Wednesday that it would be a "grave miscarriage of justice not to count those ballots" from the final two hours of Bridgeport. She said the city initially had ordered 21,000 ballots for almost 70,000 registered voters.
"They probably thought they were saving money and now the election is hanging in the balance because of it," Bysiewicz said in an interview on Fox CT.
Malloy's representatives reached out to Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office Wednesday to start the transition, but the official process will not begin until the election controversies are settled, officials said.
McKinney saved his strongest criticism for Bysiewicz's handling of the Bridgeport snafu in which local voting officials ran out of printed ballots Tuesday.
"It is unacceptable that the chief elections officer on election night ? when we have maybe thousands of citizens who were turned away and told they cannot vote ? sits there and says, 'I have nothing to do with this; it's the local registrar,'" McKinney said.
Reporters had asked Bysiewicz earlier in the day whether she believed that she bore any blame for the Bridgeport snafu. "I do not," she said at a press conference in her office. "I lay it squarely on the shoulders of the registrars of voters" in Bridgeport.
She added: "It has been the directive of our office to order 100 percent of ballots ? in other words, one ballot for every registered voter, plus extras, in case ballots are spoiled. That has been our directive to them. And we should have a state law [requiring that]. I didn't think it was necessary to legislate common sense, but obviously it's necessary."
Foley spent the day Wednesday with aides at his second-floor campaign office in downtown Stamford, planning for a potential transition team and trying to reconcile his campaign's vote tallies with those of the secretary of the state. With him were his press secretary, Liz Osborn, and Justin Clark, his campaign manager.
Foley said that his office tried to reach Bysiewicz or someone on her staff all day to try to reconcile the numbers, but that they could not get anyone to call back.
"We're quite suspect about that number," he said of the 3,100 difference between Foley and Malloy, as recorded by the secretary of the state. "She can't produce the data."
Foley said he didn't expect to have anything further to say until the numbers issue is clarified.
"We don't want to be presumptuous. Our numbers show us as having won," he said. "We're not saying I'm the governor-elect.''
When asked about Malloy's claim to having been elected, Foley said, "Actually it looks a little silly to me. But that's what he's doing."
In the same way, Malloy was asked what he thought about Foley forming a transition team.
"God bless him,'' Malloy said.