Dems attack town clerk for ballot error, Republicans strike back
They're back at it again.
Less than two weeks before the town's municipal election, Trumbull Democrats and Trumbull Republicans are doing a familiar dance and exchanging blows — this time over the job being done by Town Clerk Suzanne Burr Monaco as she prepares the ballots and absentee ballots for town voters.
"The Trumbull Democratic Town Committee has expressed concern and disappointment in the wake of more election problems from the Trumbull Town Clerk’s office," said Lisa Labella, the campaign manager for first selectman candidate Vicki Tesoro, in a press release Tuesday night.
"For the third time in recent years, mistakes by Trumbull Town Clerk Suzanne Burr Monaco have threatened to create confusion for Trumbull voters," she said. "This year the problem stems from the fact that District 4 elects six Town Council members instead of the five elected in the other three districts."
The Democrats are claiming that Burr Monaco and her office created a ballot that incorrectly instruct voters in District 4 to select up to five candidates instead of six.
"Voters are allowed to vote for up to six Council members in District 4 with the top six winning election," the release said. "As each party can only field five candidates, this ensures that the district has at least one Council member from each party."
In the Democrats release, Town Clerk candidate Cindy Katske weighed in on the issue calling it "a pattern of carelessness in the Town Clerk’s election responsibilities."
"Our greater concern is to ensure that Trumbull voters are not confused by the election process or prevented from fully exercising their right to vote,” said Katske, secretary of the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee. “It’s also unfortunate that Trumbull taxpayers will have to shoulder the cost of correcting this mistake.”
Mark Sargent, the campaign manager for First Selectman Tim Herbst, fired back with his own release Wednesday afternoon, denying any wrongdoing and accusing the Democrats of unfairly putting co-party responsibility on a single, Republican candidate.
“Suzanne Burr Monaco has been a huge asset to this town and frankly the misinformation of the Democrats is insulting to Trumbull residents and the office of Town Clerk,” Sargent said, referring to the District 4 absentee ballots for the upcoming election.
“Town Clerk Suzanne Monaco’s commitment to Trumbull is parallel to none; Suzanne immediately corrected the absentee ballots in District 4 and mailed them out the very next day," he added. "Every Trumbull resident in District 4 who applied for an absentee ballot will receive a new ballot in the mail and will have ample time to return their ballot to the Town Clerk’s office prior to election day.”
Sargent explained in his release that in 2011, the election process explanations were present at polling locations but we're not hung up.
"This is the responsibility of both the Republican and Democratic Registrar of Voters," he said. "In the last town election, the Democratic candidate's name was David Kayne and his middle initial was not included.
"As there were no other David Kaynes in the state of Connecticut, the candidate himself gave us his permission to leave it," he explained. "All ballots are proofed by all staff in the Town Clerk’s office and the Democratic and Republican Registrar of Voters and the proofed ballot printed out was accurate."
Sargent stressed that residents who provided a valid email address were sent a notice immediately that a new ballot would arrive, and the reason.
"No one at the polls will receive an incorrect ballot," the campaign manager said. "We have already received corrected ballots and pulled the initial ballot upon receipt.
Sargent added that this is another distraction from the true concerns facing Trumbull residents in Town.
“We are still confused as to how exactly the Democrats running for office wish to make substantive positive change here in Trumbull," he said. "Suzanne Burr Monaco and the rest of the Republican team will continue to build upon their accomplishments over the past 6 years and move forward with their plan to push Trumbull in the right direction.”
Sargent invited all Trumbull residents to the upcoming first selectman’s debate tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 22 in the Trumbull Library at 8 a.m.
In the conclusion of her release, Labella acknowledged that the problem would be corrected but still found the situation — in addition to previous complaints from Trumbull residents over balloting issues — to be of concern with 13 days left before Election Day.
"The error will be corrected on new ballots to be printed for the upcoming election; however, absentee ballots have already been sent out by mail with this error," she said. "New absentee ballots will be sent to replace the erroneous ballots, but any absentee ballots completed and received with this error will still be accepted and counted as valid if the corrected ballot is not returned."