Wallingford vote totals updated after discrepancy found

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WALLINGFORD — For the second election in a row, the Wallingford Democratic Town Committee found discrepancies in the vote totals reported to the Secretary of the State's office for certification.

The unofficial vote totals were updated Monday. Numbers are not considered official until they become certified by the Secretary of the State.

The new vote totals don’t change the outcome of the election for mayor, Town Council and Board of Education, however the new numbers narrow the victory margin in the mayoral race and change the order in which candidates ranked among the top vote getters in the race for Town Council.

Democratic mayoral candidate Riley O’Connell, who lost to incumbent Republican William W. Dickinson Jr., fell short by 374 votes, according to the new numbers.

The previously reported gap in the vote totals to the state was about 430 votes, compared with the 396 votes reported by poll runners on election night.

Democrat Sam Carmody, newly elected to the council, now places fifth in the race with 8.49 percent of the overall vote, according to the new unofficial results. He previously had been reported coming in seventh.

Incumbent Democrat Gina Morgenstein, who previously had been reported in ninth place, now ties with newcomer Republican Autumn Allinson for eighth place. Both received the same number of votes for 7.99 percent of the vote total.

Online reporting blamed

Alida Cella, Wallingford Democratic Town Committee chairperson, said that the group suspected something had been misreported when the unofficial numbers, reported publicly through the Secretary of the State's online elections management system, showed that Democratic candidates had received significantly fewer votes than the numbers poll runners reported election night.

“It was weird because we had lost votes” between the election night totals and what was reported to the state, Cella said. “How can you lose votes? If there was a number change, you would expect that it would go up, because there were maybe some unaccounted absentee ballots or same-day registrations that we didn't have, but the fact that it had gone negative was worrisome.”

Although it’s the responsibility of the town Registrar of Voters to report the vote totals to the state, in past years the Town Clerk has taken on that task. This year, Wallingford Town Clerk Deborah McKiernan did not enter the vote totals into the state reporting system, she said Monday.

Pat Nastri, one of the DTC’s district leaders, sat down Friday with Robert Avery, the town Democratic Registrar of Voters, to determine what happened.

Avery found that the absentee ballots and election day registrations for District 7 — polling location Mary G. Fritz Elementary School  in Yalesville — were not reported to the state.

Avery said Monday that he ran into problems with the Secretary of the State's online reporting system election night.

He said the head moderators, Republican Bob Prentice and Democrat Tamera Cypress, had to wait to report Wallingford’s vote totals Nov. 3 — the day after the election.

“Both of them read (from) one page," Avery said. “One person would read it out loud, and the other person would repeat it. They went from district to district to district, and how they could have skipped it — nobody can believe that. So I believe it has to be a computer glitch.”

He believes the Secretary of the State’s online reporting system was overwhelmed on election night when they attempted to submit Wallingford’s vote totals.

“Everybody in the state sending their information in at the same time basically, it must have done something” he said, “because it wouldn't go through. The next day, when they came in, it went right through.”

District 7 again

After retabulation Monday, the vote totals grew for every candidate across both parties, but not enough to change the outcome of any race.

Despite the new numbers not changing the outcome, Cella said, she feels her concerns were justified because DTC members caught a ballot count error last year as well, which resulted in election results for one race being overturned.

Last year, Democratic challenger Jim Jinks declared victory over incumbent Republican Craig Fishbein in the race for state House of Representatives in the 90th district, after poll runners for both parties returned numbers that put Jinks ahead on election night.

Due to a human or computer error in reporting Wallingford's vote totals to the Secretary of the State, ballots cast in District 7 — the same voting district affected this year — were not included in the vote totals reported to the state.

After a recount, Fishbein won re-election by seven votes.

“This time, there was no impact on the results,” Cella said, “however, why does this keep happening?”

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores


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