Voters Address Ballot Bungle

It was a night to vent and that’s what a few dozen speakers did Tuesday night at City Hall Annex.

Roughly 100 attended the meeting of the informal elections committee appointed by Mayor Bill Finch and chaired by former Mayor Nick Panuzio (see interview with Nick above)  tasked with reviewing the Election Day debacle of ballot shortages and making recommendations so it never happens again.

State Rep. Chris Caruso had one loud message in his presentation to the committee and audience to make sure city voters never again experience a ballot shortage: remove Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala. Easier said than done. Ayala is elected by the people, in fact reelected to a new two-year term two weeks ago. The Big Wave, who’s pondering a run for mayor in 2011, said he’s looking into state law that would allow for the impeachment of Ayala by the Connecticut Legislature. Would he really have support for that? Caruso has peppered Ayala with criticism since he lost a tight primary to Finch in 2007, claiming election irregularities. Caruso, by the way, was named chairman of the city’s legislative delegation in a meeting with peers on Tuesday. That means he’ll take the lead on pushing through legislative initiatives on behalf of the city.

Several speakers including former city development director Nancy Hadley, a downtown resident who led a voter registration drive of new downtown residents, led a chorus for Ayala’s resignation. Ayala did not attend the event, and it was good she did not witness the piling on. Her Republican counterpart Joe Borges also did not attend. Linda Grace, who’ll be replacing Borges as Republican Registrar (she had nothing to do with the ballot shortage) did attend.

Several Republicans spoke including Republican Town Chair Marc Delmonico, 2007 GOP mayoral candidate Michael Garrett, former State Senator Rob Russo and David Pia, losing GOP State Senate candidate, who regaled the audience with election nightmares including a mix-up of ballots that had the incorrect ballot handed to two dozen voters before the gaffe was caught at Black Rock School.

The crowd was orderly and Panuzio did a nice job accommodating speakers, keeping the pace moving and letting everyone have their say for more than one hour. Panuzio says he expects the committee will submit its recommendations to Finch within 90 days or so.

Will anything be resolved long term from the meeting? Probably not. But it gave Finch an opportunity to allow voters to vent and share their ideas. City voters, on this one, deserve a lot of latitude to bitch. Ayala has taken a public beating for the ballot shortage. I don’t think she’s going anywhere without an all-out political closing in. Does anyone think she’d make the same mistake again?



    1. Flushed Puppy–I was at work but I watched the show. This panel has no power to change state law. What should have happened was the GAE committee at the state level should have held the hearing in BPT. They have the power to make changes. Peace.

      1. Good point Ernie! I wonder why the Elections Enforcement Commission was never mentioned by the mayor or anyone concerned about the matter. They have the power to investigate Election matters–whether or not they have the resources or the will is another question.

  1. … and 6:30 tomorrow evening at the Black Rock Branch Library:

    The 2010 Election–What Happened and Why.

    Join us for an in-depth look at the results of the November 2nd election(s).

    Our bipartisan panel will examine the results of CT state and federal elections as well as the outcomes of some of the most watched races across the country. Don’t miss this opportunity to discuss this historic election and its possible consequences for our city, state and country.

    Panelists will include:

    * Don Greenberg, Fairfield University Professor of Politics
    * Marc Delmonico, Bridgeport Republican Town Committee Chairman
    * Max Medina, former Bridgeport Board of Education President and Democratic mayoral candidate
    * Rob Russo, former republican State Senator and aide to former Congressman Chris Shays

    The discussion will be moderated by Black Rock Branch Community Librarian John Soltis.

    I imagine the problems in Bpt. will also come up for discussion.

    John S.

  2. Now that the dog and pony show is over and people were heard in front of Finch’s hand-picked committee, whats next? Nothing! This was nothing more than an exercise in futility.
    If the city were serious about the voting problems that happened why have they refused an audit of the 12 polling places involved? I have read the published remarks from the city attorney’s office and still don’t know why they refused this audit.

  3. Shouldn’t Da Birdman have been there last evening? Shouldn’t he have spoken? Elaine could have thrown something together for him to say. Ah ~~~ Guess he wasn’t invited to dinner.

  4. If you are innocent of wrongdoing you should have no problem accepting an audit.
    This is a bottom-up, top-down oversight issue. How did the city’s Voter Registrars order too few ballots and why didn’t the SOTS review each town’s orders for ballots?
    Why doesn’t the SOTS know what towns are ordering for ballots and why don’t they keep a history of the number of people voting?
    If voting was so important to the Registrar and SuBy then why didn’t anyone take their job seriously enough?

  5. town committee–If the mayor wanted to do something all he had to do was to say from this day forward, 70,000 ballots will be printed from now on, so each voter will always have a right to vote. All last night was about was a photo opportunity.

  6. *** P/R fanfare for a system that’s been snowballing toward failure for the last 20 years or so due to a 1-party controlled system. Did not hear much concerning the Republican registar’s part in this, just Ms. Ayala! From the Mayor’s office to the ROVs & poll workers hired for the election there has to be training & checks & balances to be sure everyone is on the same page, no? Seems Ms. Ayala will be the sacrificial lamb for this debacle that was grossly handled from top to bottom with plenty of finger-pointing still left when all is said & done! *** Time will tell. ***

  7. Last night was a Dog and Pony show indeed. The city government must really think Bridgeport residents are stupid. The “inefficiencies” that happened on November 2nd might just be the spotlight that Bridgeport has been so desperately in need for the majority of the past 20 years. Although I would not be surprised if the city officials now try to sweep this issue under the carpet, I am hoping the residents in Bridgeport finally stand up and say “enough is enough.” On issue after issue, taxes, safety and education, this city has FAILED its citizens time and time again. Accountability is something we, as citizens, should demand when it comes to our elected officials. Maybe the mayor will include this in his next commercial, “Surprise! It’s Bridgeport 2.”

    1. GOPinBPT // Nov 17, 2010 at 11:32 am
      to your posting …

      My worry all the time was that any new candidate who was willing to challenge the Democratic Party Machine would be the victim of vote counting that would end the campaign, and victory earned would be victory denied …

      It is possible (or is it possible) the next election in the City of Bridgeport will be conducted with enough eyes and enough oversight that the person the voters actually want could be elected. That’s the surprise in Bridgeport that I’m looking for …

  8. Bottom line is, incompetents handled the election and should be given the boot. Too bad it’s an elected position. It should be handled by accountants. Responsible people with educations who know how to count.


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