EAST HAVEN, CT — The losing mayoral candidate in November’s hotly contested, close election filed a lawsuit in New Haven Superior Court this week asking for a recount and claiming there were improprieties before and during the event by town officials, including Mayor Joe Maturo.
The lawsuit, filed by Salvatore Maltese, the Democratic challenger for mayor, will be the subject of a hearing today.
Its primary claim is questioning the validity of the rejection of absentee ballots by Republican Town Clerk Stacy Gravino.
All voting machines, ballots, and absentee ballots cast in the election have been impounded until further notice from the court.
Maturo, the Republican incumbent, won the election by 106 votes, getting 3,649 votes to Maltese’s 3,543, a margin of about 1 percent.
The lawsuit names the town of East Haven, Maturo, Gravino, Albert Fucci, Donna Norman, and the Secretary of the State’s office as defendants.
It claims there were 596 applications for absentee ballots and that “an unknown number were rejected by her (Gravino). The reasons for the rejection of the ballots have not been publicly expressed,” the complaint states.
The complaint also claims there were few if any witnesses to the counting of absentee ballots.
“The tallying of absentee ballots occurred without the moderator or Registrar of the Democratic Party, nor was a recount offered,” the complaint states. “The discrepancies in the number of absentee ballots results in additional votes for the Defendant Maturo which affect the results of the election in his favor.”
Gravino herself won re-election in the Town Clerk’s race, but also by a close margin of about 200 votes.
The complaint further states that members of the Republican Party were within 75 feet of a polling place during election hours, a violation of state law.
It goes onto to allege there were discrepancies with polling machines in East Haven’s District 5.
The lawsuit said that Maltese would have won the election if the issues didn’t occur before the election with the absentee ballots — and — the improprieties didn’t exist on Election Day.
The complaint asks: “To schedule a recanvassing, review and recount of the ballots for the general municipal election.”
Maturo, who was re-elected to his ninth term, wasn’t happy when he learned about the lawsuit.
“It seems the person who complained during his campaign about too many lawsuits in East Haven has just filed a lawsuit himself against the town and five people,” Maturo said.
“It also seems that candidates in the Democratic Party have a hard time accepting the vote turnout when they lose,” Maturo added. “Seems whenever they lose, their next step after accusing others for their loss, they want a judge to go against the vote of the people and appoint them to the office of mayor.”
Maturo said: “This suit will cost our town thousands of dollars and is disrupting our Democratic process. It’s a shame that someone can make any kind of unsubstantiated accusations and the town has to spend good money to prove them wrong without any repercussion to them.”
Maturo added the lawsuit “makes me tired of politics.”