The Connecticut Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the decision by Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens that rejected a lawsuit contesting the results of the September 10 Democratic primary in which Mayor Joe Ganim defeated State Senator Marilyn Moore by 270 votes. See decision here.
The 7-0 ruling was written by Chief Justice Richard Robinson.
From the decision:
We further conclude that the trial court properly found that, under this standard, the plaintiffs had failed to establish that the reliability of the result of the primary election is seriously in doubt. Indeed, they have not expressly challenged any of the court’s factual findings or legal conclusions as to which absentee ballots should have been counted, and they have not pointed to any evidence that would compel a finding that there is a serious risk that Moore or any of the other candidates who lost in the primary election would have won in the absence of the improprieties in the handling of the absentee ballots. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court correctly determined that the plaintiffs failed to establish that they were entitled to an order directing a new special primary election. The judgment is affirmed.
The lawsuit was brought by Bridgeport Generation Now Votes whose leadership supported Moore for mayor. Moore won at the polls, but lost via absentee ballots. The plaintiffs alleged absentee ballot violations altered the outcome of the vote, including operatives filling out ballots on behalf of voters.
Deputy City Attorney John Bohannon countered no, that much of the plaintiffs assertions centered on absentee ballot applications. It’s legal to help a voter fill out an application. Bohannon emphasized that the plaintiffs did not come close to finding 270 reasons that would alter the results.
Stevens, although citing some irregularities, agreed. The plaintiffs appealed.
It was an odd complaint in that not one Democratic candidate in the primary was a plaintiff in the case, including Moore, something Bohannon noted on many occasions in verbal and written arguments. The Supremes agreed, and addressed it in the decision:
Moreover, we find it unlikely that the legislature intended to create the situation in which, after every primary election, thousands of potential plaintiffs would have standing to seek a new primary based on the rulings of an election official that did not personally affect them. It is more likely that the legislature intended that the proper party to seek that particular form of relief would be a losing candidate who could establish that the improper ruling of an election official had rendered the results unreliable.
Statement from Ganim:
“I’m pleased to hear of the Supreme Court’s unanimous final decision that reaffirms the trial court decision and the validity of the election. I thank the Court for their time took to review this case. I would be remiss if I didn’t express my appreciation again for the continued and overwhelming support that I received from the voters.”
Moore had a backup plan in mind if she lost the primary, but her campaign failed to secure the necessary signatures to appear on the Working Families Party line in November. Without a ballot spot, Moore waged a write-in campaign. She was defeated by Ganim by 2 to 1.