Recount ends with Keitt winning 134th House district by 10 votes; McCloat camp to file complaint

TRUMBULL — A week after conceding the race to her opponent, Democrat Sarah Keitt is instead celebrating her win.

A recount in the 134th district ended with Keitt beating Republican challenger Meghan McCloat by 10 votes. However, McCloat said she is challenging the results of the Fairfield recount, claiming the Democratic registrar there violated election laws.

The district includes both Fairfield and Trumbull.

The Trumbull side of the recount took place Wednesday in Trumbull's Town Hall council chambers and showed McCloat with a total of 1,476 votes, and Keitt with a total of 1,446, putting McCloat ahead by 30 in that town.

However, Fairfield's recount, which took place Monday, showed Keitt up by 40 votes there. The combination shows Keitt as the winner by 10 votes.

In a statement released shortly after the Trumbull recount was complete, the Keitt campaign said the race "demonstrates the truth of the statement, 'EVERY vote matters.'" 

Keitt's campaign went on to thank the registrars of voters, town clerks, and recount workers in Fairfield and Trumbull for "the time, energy, and careful diligence they put into the 134th House district recount over the last week." 

However, the McCloat campaign has raised questions about the Fairfield recount. On Tuesday, McCloat issued a press release claiming that Democratic registrar of voters Matthew Waggner "violated multiple Connecticut State Election Laws."

She alleges, among other things, that Waggner engaged in "unnecessary printing of photocopied ballots, improper chain of custody of official ballots, false statements on certificates and returns, improper voter count without an official moderator present, and tampering with ballots among other violations."

McCloat, who was at the Trumbull recount, said a complaint was sent by her campaign via U.S. mail to the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

The SEEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When contacted Wednesday, Waggner said he wanted to "wait to see the complaint before commenting on it," but that he knows that a number of ballots were returned from polling places to be hand counted.

"The campaigns were well aware of this as the polling places were closing on election night," he said in an email. "These were primarily absentee ballots that we experienced difficulty in feeding into the tabulator due to the creases from folding, and they were primarily from the Mill Hill district, which was supervised by a Republican Moderator."

He said election officials "took care that these ballots were in the custody of both Democratic and Republican officials at all times while unsealed."

Waggner added that his office has "seen a number of complaints to the SEEC in the past and our conduct has always been upheld as legal and appropriate."

The Trumbull recount took roughly three hours. More than 30 people attended the recount, which was conducted by eight counters and presided over by two registrars of voters and a moderator.

After the votes were counted, questions were raised because an election tape showed that there had been one write-in vote.

Eventually, counters went through the ballots again and found the one write-in, only to discover that it was an empty write-in ballot.

Trumbull Democratic Registrars of Voters Jean Rabinow said she was aware of one issue on election night when nine fewer votes were accidentally tabulated for Keitt, but that error, which Rabinow said was either a typo or a misread, was corrected on the day after the election.