Split over Stratford election, committee sends two recommendations to House

February 4, 2019

HARTFORD — Two separate recommendations will be sent to the full state House of Representatives because a four-member committee charged with reviewing a contested election in Stratford’s 120th House District cannot agree on what should be done.

Although they agree that 76 Stratford voters were issued the wrong ballot in the November election, the state representatives are split down party lines over whether a new election should be ordered. Lawmakers believe that this is the first time the rarely convened Committee on Contested Elections has ever been divided in their recommendations.

“We deliberated on Friday with great fervor and wanted to mull over the weekend whether there was any way to achieve consensus,” said Rep. Michael D’Agostino, D-Hamden, in a meeting of the Committee on Contested Elections Monday morning. “Regrettably we could not.”

Rep. Phil Young, D-Stratford was certified the winner in the 120th District by 13 votes and was sworn in on Jan. 9 with other legislators. Republican challenger Jim Feehan has argued for a new election in court and before the committee.

Democrats D’Agostino and Rep. Gregory Haddad of Storrs recommend that no new election should be ordered in the 120th because that would disenfranchise about 10,000 who properly cast ballots.

Republicans Rep. Vincent Candelora of North Branford and Rep. Jason Perillo of Shelton support a new election because they believe the results of this election will always be in doubt.

After receiving the lawmakers’ suggestions, a vote of the full House of Representatives will likely decide whether or not a new election is held. Democrats hold a majority in the chamber.

The committee received hours of testimony from about 10 subpoenaed witnesses who were involved in supervising the election and the Bunnell High School polling place, where the wrong ballots were issued. They also received written and oral arguments from attorneys representing Feehan and Young.

The last time the Committee on Contested Elections was formed in the House was in 1985. The Democratic winner, Joan Hartley of Waterbury, was allowed to keep her seat. Hartley is now a longtime state Senator.

emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson

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