Before I declared my candidacy for the Connecticut State Senate, just about everyone I spoke with told me what we've all been hearing for years — that politics is a dirty business. As an unaffiliated voter, the process of petitioning for the honor of appearing on the ballot is a daunting one, but I understand the importance of what that process represents, so I focused on the task at hand and set about meeting people in the district to ask for their support.
Many hundreds of people have expressed their excitement for my efforts. Not because they knew me, but because they too were/are an unaffiliated voter from within the 32nd Senatorial District. In fact, it appears I'm in good company because nearly 45% of all registered voters in this district are registered as unaffiliated. That is, by far, the dominant group represented, outpacing Republicans (29%) and Democrats (25%) by a significant margin.
Late yesterday, I was beyond disappointed to learn that at least five of my original nominating petition sheets from the Town of Southbury have somehow gone missing. That represents nearly 130 individuals from Southbury who have signed in support of my candidacy, but now cannot be accounted for. After carefully double and triple checking my records and copies of all petitions filed, and having two others also check my work, I'm now confident my records reflect more than enough signatures to have met the legal requirement of 502 electors. What I do know for certain is that 32 original nominating petition forms were hand delivered to the Office of the Secretary of the State ("SOTS") well before the 4:00 p.m. deadline this past Monday, January 23, 2017. In addition to those 32 sheets, I personally hand delivered 7 more originals to the clerks in Southbury, Watertown, and Woodbury. In all, there were 39 original nominating petitions received by either the Secretary of the State or a Town Clerk, as allowed by the rules.
For those petitions received by the SOTS, they then have the responsibility to coordinate confirmation of the original signatures on each petition with the respective towns to ensure the signatures and names appearing on the original Nominating Petitions do indeed correspond with electors in the town (meaning they are registered voters, living within the district).
The SOTS reports sending 6 sheets to Southbury, yet the office of the Town Clerk in Southbury reports having receiving just 1 such petition. Early this morning (Thursday, Jan. 26th), I alerted Connecticut Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, by email to the possibility that either clerical error or interference in the election may result in the need for court action to ensure an open and fair election for ALL candidates, not just those affiliated with a major political party. We shall see how the Secretary responds to this urgent and important matter. Stay tuned.
UPDATE (Jan. 30th): While I was pleased to learn I had been confirmed and am on the ballot, it is still concerning that the process for Petitioning Candidates appears to have flaws, negatively impacting both the candidate and the Town Clerks who have to verify nominating petitions under very tight deadlines. In all, there were 12 original petitions that were unaccounted for as of close of business last Thursday, impacting nearly all towns in the district. I've been in close contact with all Town Clerks and will continue to watch this issue until all 39 petitions have been accounted for.
My special thanks to Connecticut's former Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, for her willingness to assist me, an unaffiliated petitioning candidate . . . even though she and I had never met or spoken before. Her immediate attentiveness and follow-up regarding this matter speak well of her sincere desire to ensure the integrity of our election process.