Superior Court Judge Marshall Berger granted the state’s request to keep the polling places in Bridgeport open until 10 p.m. because the city ran out of ballots late Tuesday afternoon, hopefully not disenfranchising voters, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said.
The request was brought by the Democratic Party and state Republican Chairman Chris Healy tried to block the polling extension on the grounds that he said it was illegal to keep the polls open past 8 p.m., she said. As a result of the confusion, Bysiewicz also said the confusion may lead to more litigation before the results of the gubernatorial race are certified.
The two parties along with her office and the Attorney General’s office were present for the hearing, she said, adding that Judge Berger granted the extension after hearing 20 minutes of arguments from both sides.
Rep. Jack Hennessy of Bridgeport said Tuesday that he was at Blackham School where there is currently a half-hour wait to vote because of the ballot debacle.
Bysiewicz said the shortage occurred because the Registrar of Voters only order 21,000 ballots when there are 69,000 registered voters in the city. Bysiewicz said more than once that her office had advised towns to purchase enough ballots for every registered voter, along with some extras.
But Bysiewicz noted that this was the first election where the state and federal government did not order and purchase the ballots and the decision was made by two local officials, one Democrat and one Republican.
The shortage left 12 of the city’s 23 polling districts short. They ran out of ballots and resorted to using photocopied ballots, Bysiewicz said.
Earlier in the day, Healy filed a complaint asserting that using photocopied ballots also is illegal, she said.
About 5 p.m. Tuesday evening almost all of the 25 voting precincts were running out of ballots at the same time, Hennessy said. Asked about the decision not to order ballots for every registered voter, Hennessy said “it’s inexplicable.”