HARTFORD — Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz ’83 announced Friday that Democrat Dan Malloy won the state’s embattled gubernatorial election, but his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, of Greenwich, isn’t giving in just yet.
According to Bysiewicz’s final totals, Malloy took 566,498 votes to Foley’s 560,861, a margin of victory of 5,637 votes. State law requires that the margin of victory be smaller than 2,000 votes to trigger a statewide recount. The final announcement was delayed because of voting irregularities across the state, concentrated in Bridgeport, that Foley has said has kept him from taking the secretary’s numbers at face value.
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“We’re not going to take her word for it,” Foley told the Courant on Friday.
Foley has scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. Monday in Hartford to “give an update on what his campaign has uncovered over the weekend regarding last Tuesday’s election and how he is planning to proceed,” the campaign announced in a press release Sunday afternoon.
Issues with ballots in Bridgeport left the result of the gubernatorial election in doubt into Friday. On Tuesday, the city’s Democratic registrar had ordered only 21,000 ballots for the city’s 69,000 registered voters, and early in the afternoon on Election Day a dozen polling places throughout Bridgeport ran out of ballots. That led state Democrats to file suit to keep polling places open later, a suit Bysiewicz said she supported, and a judge in Hartford issued a motion that night to extend polling hours from 8 to 10 p.m. in Bridgeport. Bysiewicz estimates around 500 people voted in the extra two hours. Bysiewicz said her office did not receive results from Bridgeport until Friday afternoon, nearly two full days after the 6 p.m. Wednesday deadline to submit returns to her office. Bridgeport gave 81 percent of its votes to Malloy, and Malloy said in a press conference Wednesday that he is “quite confident” that the ballot problems in Bridgeport cost him votes.
Without the Bridgeport numbers, the election’s results remained up in the air, with both candidates claiming victory on election night. Though Foley led through early returns, the cities came through for Malloy — none more so than New Haven, which voted for Malloy by a ratio of 6-to-1 — and the race quickly narrowed. Then, Bysiewicz announced Wednesday that unofficial results showed Malloy winning the race by 3,103 votes, and both Malloy and Foley formed transition teams to help build a state government.
“It’s time to turn the page,” Malloy said at a press conference Wednesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bysiewicz and Foley publicly sparred on WNPR’s Colin McEnroe show over her decision to declare Malloy an unofficial winner. Bysiewicz said she wanted to let the public know there would not be a recount, but Foley questioned the wisdom of declaring a winner without releasing election numbers. Foley’s campaign pointed out discrepancies in each candidate’s vote tabulations. Malloy’s camp saw him up by 11,000, Bysiewicz put Malloy ahead by 3,103 and Foley’s campaign put the Republican ahead by 2,000 votes.
“Obviously, there’s something to be reconciled,” Foley spokeswoman Liz Osborn told the News on Wednesday.
Bridgeport’s problems only grew as the week went on. On Thursday, the Foley campaign announced that a bag of 335 uncounted, photocopied ballots had mysteriously turned up, and Foley demanded that the ballots be impounded by state police. Bridgeport’s Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala told the Courant that the bag had been set aside Tuesday night by an election moderator who was not feeling well.
If the 5,637 vote margin holds up, the matchup between Malloy and Foley will be the closest gubernatorial race in Connecticut since Democrat Abe Ribicoff beat incumbent Republican John Davis Lodge by just over 3,000 votes in 1954. Malloy will be Connecticut’s first Democratic governor in 24 years.