When was the last time Bridgeport experienced an election redo of any kind on less than two weeks notice?
The screwy August 9 Democratic primary result between incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy and City Councilman Marcus Brown took on additional machinations when Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens sided last week with state election officials to recast the vote on Oct. 18. Stevens ordered a new primary citing the technicality of four voters who did not sign their applications for absentee ballots had placed the outcome in question.
Election lawyers assert Stevens decision breaks new legal ground. Brown, holding a two-vote advantage, plans to appeal that decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the campaign camps try furiously to patchwork a vote turnout with so little time to execute logistics associated with traditional timeline elections. The Hennessy campaign urged the judge to set the new primary for Oct. 25 but he sided with the proposed date of election officials. Brown’s camp strategically supports Oct 18 with solid reasoning.
The sweet spot for the Hennessy camp in the original primary was absentee ballots that kept the race tight with Brown winning handily with the walk-in vote.
The judge’s decision hamstrings Hennessy’s campaign manager Maria Pereira from maximizing the absentee ballot operation she executed for August 9. The extra week would have advantaged Hennessy.
Here’s why: the Town Clerk’s Office that processes absentee ballots will be closed Monday due to the Columbus holiday. That means one week from the new primary no ballots will be in hands of voters to fill out based on applications submitted to the office. The earliest that may occur is Wednesday but more likely Thursday depending on the efficiency of mail delivery. Then the voter must mail or drop off the ballot to reach the Town Clerk’s Office. The timeline becomes pinched to amass the several hundred absentee ballots cast for August 9.
So based on the logistics of August 9 the shotgun time frame buoys Brown’s more efficient primary day turnout.
The political establishment that supports Brown will be all hands on deck because this is a straight head-to-head race with no other contests on the ballot to leverage more boots on the ground to canvass the district, door knock, phone bank and and churn out the Oct 18 vote.
The judge’s decision peculiarly disenfranchises North End voters by dramatically limiting the scope of participation.
So who will win? Don’t bet the house on it. This contest bursts too many oddities.