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House candidate says election officials mishandled recount of primary race

“I personally felt aggrieved by the actions of the election officials, whose jobs were to conduct a free and fair election,” said Marcus Brown.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Bridgeport state House candidate Marcus Brown is heading to court after he says election officials mishandled the recount of his 127th District Democratic primary race.

“I personally felt aggrieved by the actions of the election officials, whose jobs were to conduct a free and fair election,” Brown said.

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The appeal, filed in Bridgeport superior court Monday, claims election officials improperly lost multiple absentee ballots, used a defective machine tabulator, allowed ballots to comingle, and certified election recount results while acknowledging the absence of at least nine absentee ballots.

“Now we have to pay for this out of our pockets and then go through this process potentially another time, which disenfranchises thousands of voters who made their voices heard and voted for me to be the next state representative,” said Brown. “That's why it's unfair.”

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He originally beat incumbent state Rep. Jack Hennessey (D-Bridgeport) on election night by five votes, in a 579 to 574 count.

Connecticut law requires a recount if the margin of victory is within 0.5 percent, or fewer than 20 votes. This Democrat primary had a 0.43 percent margin, triggering a recount.

During the recount, election officials misplaced nine absentee ballots, and after an unsuccessful search for them, declared Hennessy the winner by a single vote.

“It's unfortunate, because it seems to me that every vote, or most of the votes that are missing just happen to be mine,” Brown said. “We need to find those missing ballots that we believe are votes for me and until that's done, we're not going to let it go.”

In an email, Hennessy said he hasn’t seen the lawsuit yet, writing:

“While I have not yet been served with the paperwork for the lawsuit, and therefore have not personally reviewed it, I understand that the lawsuit names as defendants, the Town Clerk, the Registrar of Voters and the Election Head moderator. 

“The allegations apparently all involve claims concerning the conduct of the election officials during the recount. It is important to note that those election officials involved in the recount included Attorney Jon Chase, a state mandated monitor appointed by the Office of the Secretary of State.

“It is ironic that the Registrar of Voters, Patricia Howard and her Deputy Ines Ayala, both contributed to my opponent's campaign. They certainly had no incentive to change the result of the primary election to benefit me, after all they were supporters of my opponent.

“The Bridgeport City Attorney, by City Charter, represents all city officials and employees and will presumably defend both the actions of the election officials and the result of the recount.

“Therefore, the office of the City Attorney is in a better position to respond to any questions about the recount, since they are obligated to defend the conduct of the officials and the result of the recount.

“I may have further comments after I have been served with the paperwork and have had time to review it.”

RELATED: Connecticut primary turnout was low, but those casting ballot were determined

Brown, however, believes he won this primary race. 

“I won this primary race on election night,” he said. “We believe that if the votes were counted, every single vote was counted, we would win again in a recount and we just want a fair election.”

Brown made it clear he does support no-excuse absentee ballots and early voting, saying “the more people who are allowed to vote, the better.”

He is concerned, though, about election security, suggesting stricter penalties for those trying to manipulate the system.

A hearing in this appeal case is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 26.

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