After 20 years, Connecticut elected a Democratic governor. Dan Malloy (D) won over Tom Foley (R) by 5,637 votes, placing Malloy well beyond the recount threshold. In addition, the balance of power in Connecticut’s legislature has also shifted; neither party has total control.
The campaign was a long, nasty and expensive battle. Its over and given the economic turmoil the new governor faces, the ideal scenario would be that everyone put the past aside and unite together for the sake of our citizenry.
Unfortunately, despite the fact of a clear winner, unity is no where in sight. The emergence of a new breed of Republicans nationwide carries with it a growing resistance to the concept of fair play and just plain common decency.
On election night, some missteps along the way were turned into conspiracy theories. Republicans lost no time in crying foul when there was none. Republican State Party Chair Chris Healy took advantage of even remedies to problems that arose to turn them into wrongdoing by Democrats. The Day put it best last year when summarizing Healy’s actions in response to President Obama’s stand on Afghanistan, stating, “Chris Healy is the chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, and he fully embraces, in that role, the mission of converting any newsworthy event into partisan advantage, no matter how tenuous the connections insinuated or dubious the spin.” [….]
Traditionally, midterm elections have low voter turn out, especially among youth who in the past have historically voted only in presidential elections. The argument often offered is that colleges and universities have a high
percentage of “non-resident” students who are less involved on a local level. The other low voter turn out factor during midterm elections has been among non-white citizens and urban centers. This all amounts to a bad tradition but factually proven as any good political statistician will tell you.
When ordering ballots, conventional wisdom says you look at previous midterm elections and use that as your barometer. What is amazing here is that we still have yet to comprehend what took place in 2008, besides the record number of voters registered and the record voter turnout. The passive voting patterns of the past, be they midterm or otherwise, have changed. Conventional wisdom of the past is irrelevant and there’s no turning back to the way we were.
It seems that conventional wisdom won the day when registrars ordered ballots for this past election. The end result on election day was insufficient ballots primarily in Bridgeport and Hartford. Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz responded by directing registrars to photocopy ballots until original ballots could be provided [remedy provided by law]. The ballot shortage caused a snowball of problems that surfaced, both real and fancied.
At the first hint of ballot shortage and usage of photocopies of ballots, Republican State Chair Chris Healy “filed a complaint saying he believes that it was illegal for Bridgeport officials to give voters photocopied ballots.” [Come on Healy, really? The law allows for photocopied ballots.] The news media picks it up and in a matter of minutes a conspiracy was launched on all sides of the aisle.
Black leaders were furious over the ballot shortfall, saying that it had a disproportionate affect on black and Latino voters … “You could feel the voters’ frustration,” said Carolyn Vermont, president of the Greater BridgeportNAACP. “They were shuttled from school to school and told their names were on no lists, even though they had voted before.”[….]
Republican officials were approached by Democratic operatives and told about the surprise ballot bag, according to Bridgeport GOP Chairman Marc Delmonico. … “It adds to the inconsistencies from the Democratic Party in Bridgeport. It just keeps adding to it,” said Delmonico. “There’s nothing odd about it; there’s certainly nothing missing about it,” said Ed Maley, a representative for the Democratic Party.
The explanation to the “mysterious missing bag of ballots” was simply that election officials had placed the bag aside [with the proper security in check] to be counted after tallying district results. This was done in order to allow registrars to get home in a timely manner. There was nothing mysterious or missing. It was all bipartisan hype.
When reports of people not being able to vote or were “walking away” due to excessively long lines surfaced, the courts were asked to get involved and extend voting hours in the districts in Bridgeport that were adversely impacted by the ballot shortage.
Healy’s response to that was to claim that the voters were not disenfranchised because they had the opportunity to vote using the photocopied ballots — the same photocopied ballots Healy claimed earlier in the day as being “illegal.” Judge Berger ruled in favor of the people ordering the Bridgeport districts in question to remain open until 10 pm. And in response to Judge Berger’s ruling in favor of the people, Foley, Healy and CT GOP announce that they plan to challenge the ruling.
To ensure voters were notified immediately of the Court’s ruling that the polls would remain open until 10 pm in the 11 Bridgeport districts, Bridgeport Mayor Finch utilized the fastest method of notification at his disposal, Reverse 911. In response, the GOP is challenging Mayor Finch’s actions.
Sidebar: Having the polls remain open until 10 pm and alerting voters through Reverse 911, and photocopying ballots when polls ran out could have benefited Tom Foley or Dan Malloy, or could have made no difference at all. Interestingly, the problems that surfaced were in the densely populated urban centers that are Democratic strongholds. This begs the question of just what is Foley so upset about, besides having lost the race? Could it be that despite some registered voters’ names not showing up on poll lists as Bridgeport NAACP Chairperson Vermont stated, despite registrars not ordering enough ballots and any other problems that surfaced, and despite the fact that all these problems seem to be stacked up against Malloy and not Foley, Malloy won anyway?
Add to the mix a frenzied media — especially Associated Press who announced (similar to what AP did in Colorado) Foley the winner with numbers that did not match causing other media sources who rely on AP to follow their lead. Then AP reneged that announcement and proclaimed Malloy the winner with numbers that did not match, which again caused other media sources who rely on AP to follow their lead. Then, finally, AP came out with Malloy the winner citing correct numbers and everyone spins into over-cautious drive.
Then, after it was clear that Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman are the new governor and lieutenant governor of Connecticut, Tom Foley vacillated between conceding and challenging the voice of the people while Gov. Rell threatened to launch an “independent” investigation into the gubernatorial race. This morning, that all changed.
Chris Healy, chairman of the state Republican party, was on WTIC-AM radio with Jim Vicevich on Monday morning, the Hartford Courant reports, and said he will ask the U.S. Attorney’s office and the new secretary of the state to look into the election.
Voting patterns have changed for all elections and they are not reversing back to the way they were pre-2008. This lesson is critical as we head into municipal elections in 2011 and the presidential election in 2012. Registrars should order sufficient ballots as prescribed by the Secretary of State’s office; one for every voter. Due to the increase in active voters, we need to reassess the number of polling stations statewide to ensure that they meet the current demand. Registrars need consistent training and evaluation to ensure that they are fully up-to-date on current voting rules for local, state and federal elections. Polling stations that are manned by persons who have been trained well benefit all candidates.
Inasmuch as the culture wars are concerned, first and foremost, money cannot buy love or an election. Advertisements that lie don’t fly in Connecticut. When people become educated with facts, they empower themselves with a lasting effect, i.e., they will not sit home on election day. As for the Connecticut GOP, they are looking inside. Whether they replace Healy at the top or not matters not. Its not the person, it is the misguided ideology and negative partisanship on steroids that needs to be addressed.
The way I see this past election is that Connecticut has taken a step beyond sheep herding. Campaigns that work here are won by building relationships based on a solid foundation of facts and relevant issues.
Going into the next election cycle, the mantra is education and jobs, education and the economy, education and the environment, education and immigration, education and health insurance reform, education and empowerment.