WATERBURY — Vicki Nardello will be on the ballot for next month’s Democratic primary in the 16th Senate District after a court order Tuesday.
The decision by Superior Court Judge Salvatore Agati means that Nardello, who won enough support at the May convention to qualify for the ballot, will face Southington Planning and Zoning Commission member Dagmara Scalisse, the endorsed-candidate, for the Democratic nomination. The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will face state Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, in a race for the seat being vacated by Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, who is running for lieutenant governor.
Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill had determined Nardello couldn’t appear on the ballot due to a filing error, prompting Nardello to sue Merrill’s office. Agati ordered Merrill to place Nardello on the ballot due to extraordinary circumstances and to promote choice for voters.
“It is Ms. Nardello’s burden to prove she exercised due diligence,” Agati wrote in his decision released Tuesday. “The court finds she has sustained that burden.”
Nardello, a former state representative, initially failed to designate a district when she filed paperwork for the primary, but claimed in her lawsuit that she’d been told by state officials that the problem had been resolved and that she’d be on the ballot.
According to Agati’s decision, someone from Merrill’s office contacted the Democratic Party. That party representative then entered the 15th District rather than 16th .
Nardello only became aware of the error later and was unaware of the party’s efforts to correct her form, Agati said. She was told by state officials that the problem would be fixed by the deadline and that she didn’t need to take any further action.
“The court finds that Ms. Nardello made appropriate efforts to resolve the error by notifying the defendant of the problem,” Agati wrote. “Ms. Nardello relied on the response she received from the Secretary of the State’s office that the matter would be corrected.”
Merrill’s lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne, said during a hearing last week that the state lacked the statutory authority to waive deadline requirements and place someone on the ballot, but there wouldn’t be any appeal if the court were to order Merrill to do so.
Gabe Rosenberg, Merrill’s spokesman, said the office would be doing a thorough review of procedures for handling incomplete forms.
Absentee ballots need to be ready for July 24. Rosenberg said there would be no issue getting ballots printed in time.
Last week, Nardello said she’s raised the money needed for funding from the state’s Citizens’ Election Fund but that she needs to be on the ballot to receive the money.