The public might have thought they had spoken, but it now appears that it will be quite some time before we know Connecticut’s next governor for certain. Both Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy believe that the results of the contested election will, in the fullness of time, favor them.
Close elections are a feature of any democratic system, and it is not the fault of the state of Connecticut that the two candidates have garnered a similar number of votes. However, when such a situation emerges, voters have the right to expect that those responsible for the administration of the polls work efficiently and appropriately in order to provide a correct result as quickly as possible.
It is indisputable that the secretary of the state, Democrat Susan Bysiewicz ’83, has acted in at best a highly unprofessional manner and at worst for the partisan advantage of her colleague Malloy. Her announcement that Malloy was the winner based on “unofficial” results, of which she was unable to give a full account, did not befit her office: it is her role to announce validated, official results, not to offer her opinion on which candidate she believes is likely to prevail.
Bysiewicz then exacerbated her error by engaging in an unedifying debate over the radio with Foley, in which she admitted that her speech was based on unofficial results, but appeared to see nothing wrong with her standards of conduct. Her involvement in this debacle has led to a blatant conflict of interest, and she should clearly play no further part in piecing together the realities of this election.
There are many crucial questions which state authorities have thus far been unwilling or unable to answer, and which will ultimately decide the identity of the governor. The most significant of these concerns is the pathetic excuse for an election which took place in Bridgeport, where only 21,000 ballots were printed, despite the city’s over 69,000 registered voters.
It is simply inconceivable that the election’s administrators did not anticipate that more ballots might be required, or that the ensuing situation had no effect on the number of votes cast within the city. When we go to vote, we expect to have our say in the democratic process. If that right is denied to us even temporarily, our motivation to ensure that our voice is heard increases, quite possibly to the extent that we encourage others to go out and vote, regardless of their original plans. This, combined with the controversial decision of Bridgeport authorities to inform voters that polling hours had been extended by way of the “Reverse 911” system usually reserved for emergencies, would almost certainly have disproportionately increased turnout in the heavily Democratic city.
Voters will not have failed to notice the inordinately protracted declaration of results from the overwhelming majority of districts within New Haven, which released their figures more than 36 hours after the polls had closed. No explanation for the delay was offered by city officials. In democracies such as the United Kingdom, where all ballots are counted by hand, results are nonetheless known by the morning after the vote. If an inherently more time-consuming system can announce its results so quickly, a delay as lengthy as that in New Haven, when combined with the irregularities which plagued Bridgeport, raises serious and unanswered questions.
For the eventual winner of this race to be able to govern legitimately, it is essential not only that every valid vote is counted, but also that genuinely invalid votes are discredited. In a race as close as this, electoral administrators must focus their attention on providing an accurate and explicable result, not a rash and questionable one. That has not been the spirit in which they have acted thus far, but it is the manner in which they must now act. If a recount is required, a recount must be ordered: only by ensuring that the outcome of the election is entirely transparent will any integrity be restored to this discredited process.
Alex Fisher is a freshman in Morse College.