It looked as if state Rep. Kenneth Green of Hartford had fended off a challenge from Hartford City Councilman Matthew Ritter by two votes the night of the Aug. 10 Democratic primary. But a recount called four votes into question and swung the election in favor of Ritter, who ended up winning by two votes.
“Errors were made in this case,” Green’s attorney Steven Seligman said Friday in court. He said the errors by election officials were egregious and called into question the results of the entire election.
He told Judge A. Susan Peck that if she finds in his favor she should order a new election.
Ritter’s attorney disagreed.
Daniel Krisch of Horton, Shields, and Knox told Judge Peck that there are very few election cases similar to this one. He said the most detailed case was the one brought by state Rep. Chris Caruso of Bridgeport who challenged the results of his mayoral primary against now Mayor Bill Finch.
While admitting most of the cases deal with elections that have a much larger margins of victory, Krisch said none of them ordered a new election to take place.
Krisch warned Judge Peck to maintain judicial restraint when pondering the evidence in the case, none of which alleges any misconduct on the part of Ritter or his campaign staff.
“Elections are snapshots in time,” Krisch said. “You always run the danger of disenfranchising people who voted on that day.”
He argued the case does not rise to the level of judicial intervention and a new election.
Like the Caruso case, Seligman argued at length that Anne Wall, the Democratic registrar of voters in Bloomfield, failed to ask Green for a list of people he would like to have at the polling places to monitor the voting process.
Wall, who was on the stand most of the day Friday, admitted she didn’t know the law.
“I felt sorry I hadn’t notified both candidates,” Wall testified Friday.
She said she had already picked her designated election officials when Green approached her about it in mid-July.
“He indicated that he didn’t have a problem with that and he said he trusted my judgment,“ Wall, a Ritter supporter, said.
She offered to call three people Green suggested as possible poll watchers to offer them unofficial positions. She said she reached two of the three who were unable to volunteer for the entire day. She said one indicated she would make phone calls for Green. She said it’s technically not in her job description to do that, but she had felt bad she didn’t know about asking the candidates for poll watchers.
Other voting irregularities highlighted by Seligman Friday include the Bloomfield resident who submitted an absentee ballot, but died Aug. 9, one day before the primary.
Asked about the voter, Wall said she doesn’t know whether their vote was counted or not because absentee ballots fall under the jurisdiction of the Town Clerk.
There were also questions about a voter whose name did not appear on the voter list. The voter was allowed to vote and when the issue came up during the recount Wall said she went to go check it in the database and found that the person was registered in town and had done so on Aug. 3, seven days before the primary.
She said she had gone to check it because she was “curious.”
Arguments in the case will continue next week, but will have to be scheduled around another lawsuit, which has challenger Angel Morales challenging the results of his primary against state Rep. Kelvin Roldan, D-Hartford.