In a legal blow to State Rep. Jack Hennessy, Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens ruled on Tuesday that Hennessy may only contest results of a court-approved hand count of all the ballots cast in the August 9 Democratic primary in which City Councilman Marcus Brown holds a two-vote advantage.
The ruling limits the scope of evidence and witnesses.
On primary night Brown held a five-vote advantage triggering an automatic recount that provided Hennessy a one-vote edge but with nine absentee ballots unaccounted for by election officials. Brown filed a court complaint arguing that if all ballots were counted he’d be the certified winner.
The hand count ordered by Stevens, with the consent of both candidates, tilted the lead to Brown once the nine ballots–stored away in the bag of another city district–were discovered. Only then did Hennessy allege voter irregularities that focused on absentee ballot applications, but not actual voting ballots.
The court hearing resumes Thursday morning.
Statement from Brown campaign:
We are very pleased with Judge Stevens’s procedural rulings today. The issue before the court at this time is the legitimacy of the results of the hand recount.
Despite several claims made in the media, there has not been a single shred of evidence presented to the court of absentee ballot fraud, nor that any votes were illegally cast or improperly counted in the 127th Primary for State Representative.
A few weeks ago after a seriously flawed recanvass showed Hennessy up by 1 vote with 9 ballots missing, the Hennessy campaign argued that the election results were valid and should be defended by the City. Now that Brown is up by 2 after a court-ordered hand recount, they are throwing out issues that have no bearing on the legitimate count of the votes in this election, hoping that something will stick.
We hope that on Thursday Judge Stevens will continue to prevent the disenfranchisement of voters and ensure that we have a legitimate count of the votes in this primary.
From Dan Tepfer, CT Post:
Hennessy’s lawyer, William Bloss, had been prepared to present six witnesses who he said would have testified that their absentee ballot applications for the Aug. 9 primary were filled out by persons other than themselves in violation of election law.
However, John Kennelly, the lawyer for Hennessy’s successful challenger, Councilman Marcus Brown, objected and Judge Barry Stevens ruled Bloss could not present the witnesses.
Stevens said he is only going to decide whether to certify the second recount for the primary.
“I’m not too much concerned with what happened at the primary vote or the first recount,” the judge said.
… “I’m not prepared to disenfranchise a voter for doing what the voter was supposed to do,” the judge said.
Full story here.