Connecticut GOP Lawmaker Discovered Winner After Race Called for Democrat

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2020, file photo, volunteers sort mail-in ballots on Primary Day,
Jessica Hill/AP Photo

Connecticut GOP House Rep. Craig Fishbein was declared the loser in the race for his seat until a town clerk found an “error” had caused the race to be called for his Democrat opponent.

Wallingford town clerk Barbara Thompson said Tuesday her office discovered that votes had not been recorded in the state’s reporting system from Yalesville Elementary School, reported CT Mirror.

The school is one of nine polling places in the 90th House District that includes Wallingford and Cheshire.

“I can’t answer if it was a clerical error or a computer error in the elections management system,” Thompson said. “All I know is we caught it yesterday and amended it.”

As of Wednesday morning, unofficial results on the secretary of state’s elections website showed incumbent Fishbein ahead of challenger Jim Jinks, but, according to the Mirror, a recount will be conducted Thursday because of a margin of less than 0.50 percent.

“There’s no circumstance when an error like that is not caught and corrected,” Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for the secretary of the state, said.

The Mirror further reported:

Normally due within 48 hours after an election, the deadline for reporting final results was extended this year to 96 hours due to the expected heavy use of absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. The effective deadline was Monday, the first business day after the 96 hours.

Less clear was how the campaigns of Fishbein and Jinks were misled. The campaigns rely on results obtained at the polls, not the number posted on the state’s election site.

If Fishbein ultimately retains his seat, Democrats in the state will still maintain firm control of the legislative agenda in Connecticut, since they picked up seven House seats and two Senate seats, according to reported results.

During the pandemic, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and his administration worked to waive regulations for the use of absentee ballots to ensure more voters could cast their ballots by mail.

The election in the state saw more than 650,000 people vote by “absentee ballot without an excuse.”

State House Speaker-designate Matt Ritter said he plans to focus in on suburban zoning reform, marijuana legalization, early voting, and a public health insurance option in the coming legislative session.

Amid President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud in some states due, in part, to mail-in ballots, Connecticut’s U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined with Secretary of State Denise Merrill Friday to urge the state legislature to pass an amendment to the Constitution to allow regular vote-by-mail and early voting.

Currently, Connecticut’s constitution does not allow early voting or mail-in voting. This year, during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Lamont said in April that, due to his “stay-at-home rule,” he was “going to have to find a way people can vote — and especially seniors — so they don’t have to leave their houses and go vote.”

“So, obviously the voting by mail makes a lot of sense to me,” Lamont said. “Now, I need the lawyers to figure out how to draft that.”

With the pandemic as background, Merrill sent every voter in the state, unsolicited, an application for an absentee ballot. The state Constitution, however, would need to be amended to allow mail-in and early voting for any reason at all.

“Connecticut is in the Neanderthal era,” Blumenthal said, just as mail-in ballots are a focus of intense controversy in the presidential election.


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