Court ruling unsurprising
The ruling by the Connecticut State Supreme Court in the election dispute between 2021 Republican Candidate Barry Lee Cohen and city voting officials went as expected. The high court ruled the plaintiff, Cohen, failed to show the violations alleged in his complaint materially altered the outcome. Therefore, the election results stand.
Cohen faced incumbent Democrat Mayor Nancy Rossi, and lost by more than 30 votes, prompting a recount. The recount affirmed the outcome, and, in fact, added to Rossi’s total. However, Cohen and his legal team believed the city violated state law in his handling of absentee ballots, chain of custody, and other violations. In fact, the plaintiff was able to show the city did violate state law, and officials were put on notice. Without some type of game-changing evidence, though, the issue was never in doubt.
Let us state something right at the outset: courts are loathe to reverse or call for special elections until and unless litigants can show a smoking gun, or enough votes could be in question. Cohen’s case failed to show either, and that is what he was requesting the court to decide – overturn or call a special election.
The ruling affirmed the findings of a lower court ruling issued in June, which found that the city did, in fact, violate state mandates on absentee ballots, but the number of the ballots in question did not alter the outcome.
The salient sentence in the ruling handed down says it plainly. “Although we agree with the trial court that ‘the evidence presented show[ed] a concerning lack of overall compliance with statutory guidelines by [West Haven] election officials,’ we also agree with the trial court that the plaintiff failed to satisfy his burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the results of the mayoral election were seriously in doubt.”
We disagree with the city’s legal team that Cohen should have walked away, accepted the outcome, and moved on. There were serious problems that needed to be addressed, and while some might have seen that as a distraction, the fact the court found the complaints to be valid should give city officials pause, and, perhaps, clean up their act. It was a time for some introspection, not a victory lap.
We hope the findings of the trial court, and the affirmation of that court by the State Supreme Court, will serve as a shot across the city’s bow, and have election officials do what needs to be done to comply with state law.
We shall see.
Vote ‘No’ on amendment
On Nov 8, voters will be asked to, once again, approve an amendment to the state Constitution, allowing for early voting as has been done by other states. We hope the amendment fails as it did in 2014. The state has a means for voting for those who cannot vote on Election Day – absentee voting.
The rules for absentee voting, though violated on occasion as stated above, give a means of protection and integrity to the process. Quite frankly, early voting is just another way of bastardizing the process. While voting is a right, it is also a privilege. Voting on the date prescribed by law is the responsibility of the voter. He must show up.
We have seen how loosening the process in other states has led to various corruption, from drop box stuffing to suspicious ballots being counted and other forms of irregularities.
Only those out of the country or in the armed forces should be allowed to vote early. All others should bear the responsibility of their privilege, and vote on the prescribed date. Vote No.