UPDATE: OIB banter has analyzed the role of Democratic Registrar of Voters Sandi Ayala in determining ballot placement for petitioning candidates.
Section 9-412 of Connecticut General Statutes covers the role of the registrar in conjunction with the “clerk” relative to petitioning candidates. Once petitions have been reviewed by the registrar they are sent to the “clerk” (in the case of Bridgeport that would be Town Clerk Alma Maya), who would activate the process to place all qualifying petitioning candidates on the ballot. Maya told OIB at 3 p.m. Monday that she had not received any correspondence from Ayala’s office. The Town Clerk’s Office by statute is supposed to have absentee ballots available on Tuesday, but can do nothing without petition paperwork from Ayala.
One of the sticking points in Ayala’s tardiness appears to be the four Foster slate candidates for Board of Education when only three slots were available. State statute language: Only as many candidates may be proposed in any one primary petition for the same office or position as are to be nominated or chosen by such party for such office or position … Last week Charlie Coviello resigned as a BOE candidate in what the Foster camp thought would resolve the issue. In addition, it’s Foster’s position if her BOE slate is certified for the ballot it would be as nominees in the general election in November, not the September 13 primary, because the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee did not endorse school board candidates as a result of the state takeover of schools.
Ayala, however, has a key role statutorily to ensure that the petition paperwork is filled out accurately from the start. It’s her responsibility to write in the names of the petitioning candidates on the paperwork. If only three BOE slots were available she should have known that when she issued the paperwork. To not certify Foster would be punishing her for Ayala’s screw-up. How does Ayala justify not certifying an entire city-wide ticket that has enough signatures to qualify because she has an issue over one school board spot? Sounds crazy? It is.
Ayala’s legal counsel on this matter includes Paul Ganim, Bridgeport’s judge of probate, and his brother Ray Ganim. Legal counsel for the Foster camp include Alan Neigher, a Westport-based attorney and Michele Mount (OIB friend MCAT). The lawyers are trying to work out a resolution with time of the essence. If Ayala refuses to certify Foster for the ballot look for the Foster camp to file an injunction.
Connecticut statute covering petitioning candidates:
Sec. 9-410. Primary petition forms for candidacies for nomination to municipal office or election as town committee members. Signatures. Circulation. (a) The petition form for candidacies for nomination to municipal office or for election as members of town committees shall be prescribed by the Secretary of the State and provided by the registrar of the municipality in which the candidacy is to be filed or duplicate petition pages shall be produced in accordance with section 9-409, and signatures shall be obtained only on such forms or such duplicate petition pages. Such form shall include, at the top of the form and in bold print, the following:
IT IS A CRIME TO SIGN THIS PETITION IN THE NAME OF ANOTHER PERSON WITHOUT LEGAL AUTHORITY TO DO SO AND YOU MAY NOT SIGN THIS PETITION IF YOU ARE NOT AN ELECTOR.
The form shall include thereon a statement of instructions to persons using the form and shall indicate the date and time by which it shall be filed and the person with whom it shall be filed. The form shall provide spaces for the names and addresses of the candidates, the offices to which nomination is sought or the positions to which election is sought and the political party holding the primary, and shall provide lines for the signatures, street addresses, dates of birth and the printing of the names of enrolled party members supporting the person or persons on behalf of whose candidacy the petition is used. Only as many candidates may be proposed in any one primary petition for the same office or position as are to be nominated or chosen by such party for such office or position; but any one primary petition may propose as many candidates for different offices or positions as there are nominations to be made or positions to be filled.
Sec. 9-412. Registrar’s receipt and verification of petitions for candidacies for nomination to municipal office or election as town committee members. Filing with clerk. Upon the receipt of any page of a petition proposing a candidacy for a municipal office or for member of a town committee, the registrar shall forthwith sign and give to the person submitting the petition a receipt in duplicate, stating the number of pages filed and the date and time of filing and shall forthwith certify on each such page the number of signers on the page who were enrolled on the last-completed enrollment list of such party in the municipality or political subdivision, as the case may be, and shall forthwith file such certified page in person or by mail, as described in section 9-140b, with the clerk of the municipality, together with the registrar’s certificate as to the whole number of names on the last-completed enrollment list of such party in such municipality or political subdivision, as the case may be, within seven days after receipt of the page. In checking signatures on primary petition pages, the registrar shall reject any name if such name does not appear on the last-completed enrollment list in the municipality or political subdivision, as the case may be. Such rejection shall be indicated by placing a mark in a manner prescribed by the Secretary before the name so rejected. The registrar may place a check mark before each name appearing on the enrollment list to indicate approval but shall place no other mark on the page except as provided in this chapter. The registrar shall not reject any name for which the street address on the petition is different from the street address on the enrollment list, if (1) such person is eligible to vote for the candidate or candidates named in the petition, and (2) the person’s date of birth, as shown on the petition page, is the same as the date of birth on the person’s registration record. The registrar shall reject any page of a petition which does not contain the certifications provided in section 9-410, or which the registrar determines to have been circulated in violation of any other provision of section 9-410. Petitions filed with the municipal clerk shall be preserved for a period of three years and then may be destroyed.
Meanwhile, the campaign of Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster kicked out an automated call Sunday afternoon to roughly 20,000 Democratic phone numbers in the city urging support for her ballot placement. The Foster camp thinks it can make hay with this issue in light of the paper ballot shortage snafu that occurred last year, the anger some voters have expressed over the reconstituted Bridgeport Board of Education and the current issue involving Foster’s qualifying effort. A transcript of the call voiced by Foster:
This is an urgent message. This is Mary-Jane Foster, Democratic candidate for Mayor of Bridgeport and I need your help to keep my name on the ballot September 13th. Bill Finch is using Tea Party tactics to keep me off the ballot. He doesn’t respect your right to vote–Call or text today, 203 212 9465 to register your support. Please call or text 203 212 9465 to allow the Foster team access to the ballot.