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Dem Lawyer: Stratford House challenger faces “high bar”

January 26, 2019

HARTFORD — Witnesses Friday before the House Committee on Contested Elections did not dispute previous testimony that 76 voters who cast ballots at Stratford’s Bunnell High School in the 120th House District were wrongly given ballots for the 122nd District.

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But Bill Bloss, attorney for Democratic state Rep. Phil Young, who has been sworn-in as district representative, argued that for the House of Representatives to order a new election, Republican challenger Jim Feehan should have to meet a high bar of proof. Bloss urged the committee to consider the precedent of some U.S. House of Representatives election decisions.

Young won by only 13 votes.

“Mr. Young has the prima facie right to the seat,” said Bloss. “In the absence of a showing that the results of the election would be changed, lack of knowledge of registration laws, improper enforcement by officials charged with their administration are not such irregularities as would void the results of the election.”

After the meeting Bloss said that he and Young are reviewing all the testimony and do not yet know whether they would be for or against a new election.

Feehan’s attorney was not present Thursday or Friday to give a statement, but both attorneys and candidates are invited to submit written statements to the committee before Wednesday. The four-member committee - State Reps. Michael D’Agostino, D-Hamden, Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, Jason Perillo, R-Shelton, and Gregory Haddad, D-Storrs, have until Feb. 4 to decide whether to hold a new election, or to suggest a different remedy.

D’Agostino did tell Bloss during the committee meeting he is not now considering ordering a new election.

Haddad seemed to concerned to hear that the one voter who noticed he was handed the ballot for the wrong district walked past many election officials to speak to Heriot, stationed at the front door of the gymnasium, about his incorrect ballot. He asked Heriot numerous questions about this point.

“He choose to come to me,” Heriot said. “Why I don’t know.”

Joseph Collier, Democratic assistant moderator, testified that he could have been the person to give the incorrect ballots to the ballot clerks because he passed out the majority of the ballots on Election Day.

“It was a mix-up, whether I did it unintentionally I don’t really know,” Collier said.

emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson

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