Trumbull election marked by ‘a certain amount of confusion’ over poll locations

Photo of Amanda Cuda
Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. April 5, 2017.

Exterior of Trumbull Town Hall, in Trumbull, Conn. April 5, 2017.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — The town’s election was marked not just by a resounding victory for incumbent First Selectman Vicki Tesoro, but also by confusion over voting locations and a glitch in the statewide election reporting system that caused trouble for Trumbull election officials.

On Wednesday, town election officials were able to officially confirm that Tesoro beat Republican challenger Mark Block, 5,977 to 4,420. Democrats took the whole top of the ticket, with Mary Markham beating Republican Katie Miller-Creagh for town clerk, 5,720 to 4,586, and Anthony Musto besting Republican Paul Lavoie for treasurer 5,547 to 4,737.

The voter turnout was 39 percent, said Democratic Registrar of Voters Jean Rabinow.

One issue that threw something of a wrench into Tuesday’s election was that Trumbull recently expanded from four districts to seven, meaning that many residents were in a new district and voted at a new polling place. Rabinow said the town took multiple measures to make sure people knew where they were voting, such as sending out postcards with the appropriate information, and posting district maps around town.

But, she said, she still received “two to three calls an hour from very bewildered people not having the foggiest idea where to go. A certain amount of confusion did occur.”

The town’s voting results were unofficial Tuesday night, as officials in the Registrar of Voters office were unable to enter Board of Education results from some precincts in the state’s election management system. “There was no way of entering it. The blocks just didn’t show up,” Rabinow said.

Secretary of State Denise Merrill confirmed through her Twitter account Wednesday morning that there had been some problem with the statewide reporting system. “The election night reporting system has a technical issue affecting the display of results, but all of the results are tallied and entered into the election night reporting system locally,” she said.

Most of Trumbull’s numbers were viewable through the Secretary of State’s website by Wednesday afternoon, but Rabinow said there were still difficulties entering the Board of Education numbers, and the office didn’t have official numbers until mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

The Board of Education race was somewhat unusual this year, due a recent charter change that increased the Board of Education from seven members to eight, with no more than four members from any political party. Members also will have staggered four-year terms, so half the board is up for reelection every two years.

The Democrats ran four candidates for the four-year terms, and four for the two-year terms. However, the Republicans only ran four candidates for Board of Education, and all of them ran for both the four-year and two-year terms.

According to the numbers Rabinow had on Wednesday, Tim Gallo and Lisa Nuland have won the 4-year seats, and Lucinda Timpanelli and Julia McNamee won the 2-year seats for the Democrats.

However, among the Republicans, Marie Petitti and Jackie Norcel received the most votes for both the four-year term and the two-year term.

Wednesday morning, Republican Town Committee chair Chris Bandecchi — also a Board of Education candidate — said Norcel and Petiti would take the four-year terms. Bandecchi and the remaining Republican, Alison Squiccimarro, took the two-year terms.

The official results also confirmed that the Democrats will likely hold the majority on the town council, with 11 of the 21 seats. However, Rabinow said it’s possible that at least one of the Town Council races could head to a recount. Each district has three representatives on the council and, in most districts, four candidates were running for those spots.

In the 4th district, the bottom two vote-getters were only four votes apart, with Republican Olga I. Leiva getting 777 votes and Democrat Patricia Borghesan getting 773. As it stands, Borghesan would lose the seat, giving the Republicans the advantage in that district.

Rabinow said the race meets the threshhold for a mandatory recount, but didn’t expect to know for sure on Wednesday if and when one would be scheduled.

She said Town Council races in two other districts — District 3 and District 7 — were also within the threshhold for a recount, but she didn’t expect the parties would want to go through with them, as they wouldn’t make a big difference in the results.

In the seventh district, the bottom two vote-getters — Democrat Kevin Shively and Republican Tony J. Scinto — were separated by only four votes. However, Rabinow pointed out, there were only three candidates running for those three seats, so all will automatically get elected no matter what.

In the 3rd district, only nine votes separated the candidates with the second and third highest vote totals — Democrat Jason Marsh and Republican Steve S. Choi. But, again, Rabinow said, both of those candidates will likely end up on the council regardless, as they were still among the three highest vote-getters.