In addition to the dozen Bridgeport voting precincts, which were allowed to stay open until 10 p.m. based on a judge’s order, 74 voting precincts throughout the state will be audited before Nov. 22.
A total of 86 of Connecticut’s 734 polling places will be audited by local election officials. The audits will compare the machine counts to hand counts in the races for governor, attorney general, and U.S. Senate.
The annual audit of 10 percent of the state’s voting precincts was implemented a few years ago in an effort to determine if the new optical scan voting machines were working properly, but this audit may also offer a peek into what went wrong in Bridgeport on Election Day.
A shortage of ballots in that city forced poll workers to use photocopied ballots, which were subsequently counted by hand because they could not be fed through the machines. The voting counting in Bridgeport lasted almost three days after the polls closed and held up the definitive declaration of Connecticut’s next governor.
The post-election audit is not expected to impact the results of the governor’s race, which Democrat Dan Malloy won by more than 5,000 votes, making it the closest statewide election since 1956.
“Confident once we have this hand count of randomly selected precincts that this will shine the sunlight on this very close governor’s race and ensure our machines were working properly,” Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said Monday. “We think this will put to rest any questions about those results in Bridgeport.”
She said the local elected officials agreed to hand count the machine ballots and the photocopied ballots in those 12 Bridgeport precincts. She said it’s still unknown how many photocopied ballots were cast in that city.
“We audit the results every year by hand counting and matching up those totals with the machine counts,” Bysiewicz said.
“We were very pleased that there was a strong turnout. We don’t have exact numbers yet, but it’s somewhere between 60 and 65 percent turnout,” Bysiewicz said.
Bysiewicz is expected to certify the vote on Nov. 24.
Meanwhile, in order to avoid running out of ballots in the future, lawmakers like Rep. Don Clemons of Bridgeport is expected to introduce legislation next session which requires the state to purchase ballots through the Citizens’ Elections Fund.
Bysiewicz said the legislature may want to consider a law that requires one ballot per voter to be purchased by the state.
Cheri Quickmire of Common Cause Connecticut, who was in Bysiewicz’s office Monday to help randomly select the precincts included in the audit, said she thinks taking money out of the Citizens’ Elections Fund is a terrible idea. She said the fund continues to be a target for plugging other budget holes when it should be used to help fund clean elections.
On Wednesday Beth Rotman, executive director of the Citizens’ Election Program, is expected to give an update of where the fund currently stands. Earlier this year the legislature swept millions of dollars from the fund to balance the budget.
Despite figuring out how it will be funded, it’s certain how ballots are purchased will be up for discussion this legislative session.
In 2007 the state paid for the ballots. In 2008 the federal government paid for the ballots, Bysiewicz said. In 2009 for the municipal races it wasn’t an issue.
“If Bridgeport had only ordered as much as they ordered in the ‘09 election—28,000 ballots—it wouldn’t have come to light,“ Bysiewicz said.
Deputy Secretary of the State Lesley Mara said when they surveyed other states with optical scan machines she found none of them with a statute on the books that require a certain percentage of ballots be ordered.
A panel created by Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch to look into the ballot shortage is scheduled to hold its first public meeting on Tuesday.
List of polling places to be audited:
Town Polling Place
Bethel Frank A Berry School District 5
New Britain Generale Ameglio Society District 7
Waterbury St. Peter & Paul School Gym 16 District 74
Granby Granby Memorial High School District 1
Plainville Wheeler School District 4
Killingly South Killingly Fire Station District 3
Montville Town Hall Gym District 6
Hartford Burns School District 9
Stratford Second Hill Lane 120 District 100
Danbury Danbury High School Gym Ward 1 District 1
Southbury Sacred Heart Church District 2
New Haven Firehouse Woodward Ward 17 District 17
Sprague Baltic Fire House District 1
New Milford Catherine E Lillis Building District 2
Southbury The Jewish Center District 4
Middletown Farm Hill School District 11
Greenwich North Mianus School District 12
Colchester Bacon Academy Cafeteria District 1
Mansfield Mansfield Library/Buchanan Auditorium District 3
Seymour Paul Chatfield School District 3
Wilton Driscoll School District 2
Ansonia First Congregational Church Ward 2 District 2 Precinct 2
East Haven East Farm Village 1-S District 1
Southington Derynoski Elementary School District 3
Cheshire Norton School District 4
Newington Anna Reynolds School District 3
New Britain Graham Apartments District 5-2 District 5
East Haven Hays School District 5
Fairfield Dwight School District 3
Stratford Bunnell High School 120 District 90
Hartford Achievement 1st Hartford Academy District 1
Milford Harborside Middle School District 5 District 529
Thompson Quinebaug Volunteer Fire Department District 3
Waterbury Edward D Bergin Apartments District 72
West Haven City Hall Voting District 4 District 1
Preston Town Hall District 1
Norwalk Kendall School Voting District A3 District 140
Greenwich Town Hall District 2
Madison District 2 North
Hartford South End Senior Wellness Center District 13
Orange Mary L Tracy School District 1
Fairfield Osborn School 133 District 4
Thomaston Town Hall – Lena Morton Gallery District 1
Bloomfield Firehouse Number 3 District 5
Kent Town Hall District 1
Hamden Dunbar Hill School District 7
Stafford West Stafford Fire Department District 3
East Hartford Langford School District 2
New Britain New Britain Senior Center District 5
Meriden Meriden Community Towers Area 1 District 12
Danbury War Memorial Gym Ward 5 District 5 Precinct 10
Enfield JFK Middle School District 1 District 2
Branford Community House Voting District 1, Precinct 0 District 1
Groton West Side Middle School District 2
Middletown Woodrow Wilson Middle School District 3
Stratford Wilcoxson School 120 District 70
New Haven New Horizons School District 6 Precinct 2
Stamford Julia A Stark School District 11
Norwich Stanton School District 8
Simsbury Henry James Memorial School District 1
Windsor Locks Windsor Locks High School District 2
Mansfield Audrey P. Beck Municipal Building District 1
Plainfield 4 Atwood Hose Station District 4
Lyme Lyme fire House District 1
Southington Reuben Thalberg Elementary School District 9
Ashford Knowlton Town Hall District 1
Danbury Pembroke School Gym Ward 2 District 2
Berlin Senior Center District 4
Newington Elizabeth Green School District 4
Torrington Armory District 8
Wallingford Evarts G. Stevens School District 2
Plainville Our Lady of Mercy Parrish Hall District 2
Milford Orange Avenue School District 1-2 District 127
Tolland Hicks – Town Hall District 2
The 12 Bridgeport polling places are as follows:
Beardsley School, 500 Huntington Avenue
Read Middle School, 130 Ezra Street
Central High School, 1 Lincoln Blvd.
John Winthrop School, 85 Eckart St.
Hallen School, Division St.
Thomas Hooker School, Roger Williams Rd.
Black Rock School, 545 Brewster St.
John F. Kennedy Campus, 700 Palisade Ave.
Blackham School, 425 Thorme St.
Park City Magnet School, 1526 Chopsey Hill Rd.
City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace
Longfellow School, 139 Ocean Terrace