Election Law @ Moritz

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Edward B. Foley
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CT-2: Few Provisional Ballots to Affect Recount

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November 10, 2006

This analysis was prepared by Sarah Cherry, Moritz College of Law, Class of 2007.

Connecticut’s 2nd District congressional race triggered an automatic recount when the original count showed Courtney (D) leading incumbent Simmons (R) by only 167 votes. As of November 10th, the Connecticut Secretary State shows the same margin of 167 votes, although one news account states that Simmons picked up one vote in the recount so far. A November 9th news account states that this tally includes absentee and military ballots, although it does not include provisional ballots. However, apparently there were only fifty-seven provisional ballots cast in the entire district, making it less likely they will affect the result. C.G.S.A. § 9-311 read together with § 9-311a require the recount begin within five business days of the election; Secretary of State indicates the recount must be completed within five business days, but that Veteran’s day will push the deadline back to Wednesday, November 15.

A phone call placed with the Connecticut Secretary of State on November 9 confirmed that only fifty-seven provisional ballots remain to be counted, and that one-hundred percent of precincts had reported their counts for regular and absentee ballots. The Secretary of State employee also stated that he knew of no voting problems in the district.

In Connecticut, an automatic recount is triggered when the difference between candidates’ vote totals is less than one half percent of the total votes cast in the race but is not more than 2000 votes. C.G.S.A. § 9-311a. An automatic recount is also triggered any time the margin of victory falls below twenty votes. Id.

As for provisional ballots, officials should complete verifying and counting them “not later than six days after the election or primary” and should report the results “forthwith.” C.G.S.A. § 9-232n.