Judge refuses to block certification of Stratford’s election results

November 26, 2018

BRIDGEPORT - A Superior Court judge on Monday refused to issue a temporary order blocking the Secretary of State from certifying the results of Stratford’s contested state house election.

Judge Barbara Bellis denied the motion for a temporary injunction brought by James Feehan, who in a recount lost to Phil Young in the contest for the 120th District by 13 votes. However, the judge did so without prejudice meaning Feehan can again ask the judge to impose the order on Friday if he and his lawyer find additional legal support for their motion.

In the meantime, Bellis ordered both sides to come up with a list of questions on the legality of her hearing Feehan’s legal challenge of the election that will be presented to the state Supreme Court.

In her ruling denying the temporary order, Bellis said there would be no prejudice to Feehan’s case if the Secretary of State was allowed to go forward and certify the results of the election on Nov. 30.

“The judge’s decision makes sense,” Young said later. “That’s exactly what we have been stressing and what we thought was right, that allowing the results to be certified would not prejudice the case.”

Feehan was hopeful the judge will reconsider if she gets more information.

“It’s not about me,” he said. “There are 76 voters that have been disenfranchised. Those 76 could swing the election one way or another.”

Voting for both the 120th district and the 122nd assembly district was held at Bunnell High School. But around midday a voter for the 120th district noticed he had been handed a ballot for the 122nd. Young, the incumbent Democratic candidate and Feehan, the Republican challenger, were not on the ballot for the 122nd.

It was determined that a packet of ballots for the 122nd district had been given out to voters for the 120th.

After the election, the Registrar of Voters discovered that in the 120th district 1,575 voter names had been crossed off the official checklist but only 1,499 ballots had been processed, a difference of 76 fewer ballots than voters, according to court papers. The checklist of the 122nd, 952 names had been crossed off the official checklist, but 1,031 ballots processed, a difference of 79 more ballots than voters.

Feehan’s lawyer, Proloy Das, is asking Bellis to throw out the results and order the state and the town to hold a new election for the district.

But Young’s lawyer, William Bloss, contends that Bellis does not have jurisdiction to hear the case. He contends that under the state constitution only the house of representatives can decide if an election for a house seat was done fairly.

Bellis asked both sides to shortcut the case and prepare questions directly for the state’s highest court.

“This is new territory here,” the judge said. “It’s becoming more and more apparent this case is going to end up in the Supreme Court, I am just a stepping stone. Either way you are going to have an appeal.”

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