House committee divided on ordering a new election in Stratford

February 1, 2019

HARTFORD — The Committee on Contested Elections, charged with deciding what do about a disputed state House election in Stratford, is teetering on an impasse.

The four-member committee could not agree Friday whether to recommend a new election. They did agree that 76 residents in the 120th House District received wrong ballot and lost the chance to vote in that race.

It’s likely the committee will issue two competing recommendations to the full House of Representatives: one from Democrats Rep. Michael D’Agostino of Hamden, and Rep. Gregory Haddad of Storrs suggesting no new election be held; and one from Republicans Rep. Vincent Candelora of North Branford and Rep. Jason Perillo of Shelton favoring a new election.

The lawmakers will draft separate recommendations over the weekend and return Monday to talk about them. Monday is the deadline for the committee to finish its work.

At issue is how to resolve what everyone agrees was a mistake that cost voters the right to cast ballots in the race between Rep. Phil Young, D-Stratford, the incumbent; and Republican Jim Feehan. Young was certified the winner by 13 votes and was sworn in on Jan. 9 with other legislators.

Although the committee split along party lines, members appeared willing to keep trying to reach an agreement. At a break in the meeting, D’Agostino said to the other members that a split recommendation would be “unfortunate.” Exiting the meeting, Perillo expressed hope that after writing down their opinions, the legislators might find more agreement.

The primary dispute between the Democrats and Republicans was over what the standard should be for ordering a new election.

The Democrats believed that Feehan did not prove that the ballot mistake would have changed the outcome of the election, so a new election should not be ordered.

The Republicans believed with the election outcome in doubt, a new election should be held.

emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson

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