Tom Foley remained noncommittal Thursday about a potential legal challenge to the gubernatorial election as vote-counting continued in Bridgeport, but his campaign took steps late in the day to cast doubts about the election process in Connecticut’s largest city.
The GOP nominee issued a statement raising a series of questions about ballots that reportedly hadn’t been counted once in the first 40 hours since the polls closed at 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
“It is unclear where these ballots originated, where they have been for the last two days, and whether they are still valid ballots,” Foley said in statement released by his campaign shortly after 6:15 p.m.
Foley, who leads Democrat Dan Malloy by more than 8,000 votes based on official tallies from Connecticut’s other 168 cities and towns–but trails by more than 4,000 votes after unofficial totals from Bridgeport are factored in–had campaign staffers watching the overdue vote-counting in that community on Thursday.
The campaign reported that at approximately 5:30 p.m. it learned the a bag of photocopied ballots that had been cast by voters at the John F. Kennedy School and later transported to McLevy Hall–the municipal building where the city registrars of voters’ office is located – had not been counted.
It was unclear late Thursday how many photocopied ballots were in the bag.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said this week that it is standard procedure to photocopy official ballots for use when a community runs out of original versions, as Bridgeport did on Election Day. Those photocopies cannot be read, however, by the optical scanners used at Connecticut polling places, and therefore must be set aside and counted afterward by hand.
The Foley campaign said it wasn’t told why the ballots weren’t counted before Wednesday’s 6 p.m. statutory deadline for communities to transmit final results to the secretary of the state’s office. The campaign also indicated it couldn’t learn what conditions those ballots were transported to McLevy Hall under, nor how they were stored in the interim.
A request from a Foley campaign attorney on Thursday to have the ballots turned over to a neutral authority for further review was declined. The city attorney’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
“This is a very serious matter and the state police should immediately impound them until their origin, chain of custody and validity is determined,” Foley added in his statement.
Meanwhile, Foley’s running mate, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, told reporters Thursday afternoon that there was no need to declare a winner while vote counts were still in flux. He said there were discrepancies between the campaign’s numbers and those posted on the secretary of the state’s website, some of which he said were changed Thursday afternoon.
The secretary of the state’s office changed the vote total it reported on its website for Torrington to reflect 2,000 additional votes for Foley, he said.
Boughton said it would make sense for Bysiewicz’s office to double- and triple-check numbers coming from moderators. He said he believed the winner could be determined in the next day or two.
“Let’s take our time folks, let’s slow down a little bit, let’s get it right,” said Boughton, who expressed concern about Bridgeport workers who had been up for 36 hours and were counting ballots.
Bysiewicz spokesman Av Harris said the office had two teams double-checking and triple-checking vote totals Thursday and corrected figures on the website as necessary. The final corrections were made at noon or shortly after, he said, and everything on the website reflected up-to-date figures.
When asked whether the campaign’s figures showed Foley ahead, Boughton said he had not seen the numbers recently, although he said the campaign felt “pretty good” about its position. Yesterday Foley said the campaign’s numbers showed him ahead by less than 2,000 votes.
“It’s kind of hard to have any level of confidence in any of the numbers that are coming out and that’s why we need to slow down and get this right,” Boughton said. “There’s no rush here to determine this election.”
Boughton said the campaign had not made any decisions about possible legal actions, though he held his press conference in the lobby of Goodwin Square in Hartford, which houses the offices of former U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor, who represented the Foley campaign in court on Election Day.
Boughton added that if he and Foley do not win, they would support the winner.