Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coin Toss Politics

The November ‘06 elections were exciting for most Dems across the country. In Connecticut, there was a certain anxious electricity in the air in the months preceding the elections. I remember pounding the pavement in New London for Joe Courtney on a hot summer day; in the meeting room prior to the Walk for Labor, there was a sense that something was imminent, that this was a good year for the Dems. November ‘06 was a safe topic to discuss; however, the August primary had many Dems on eggshells for a variety of reasons. While many were vocal in their support of Courtney over Simmons, sometimes people were much less likely to conjure up a conversation about Ned Lamont and Captain Lieberman. On this subject, feelings were militant on both sides with friends and family members sharply divided in their opinions. Here was an ugly Dem vs. Dem confrontation.

On the local level, another huge Dem vs. Dem showdown occurred in the town of Groton. Elissa Wright and Rita Schmidt were the front runners for the state representative seat in district 41. The race was tight; both women were political heavy hitters. The tallied results showed a one vote discrepancy in favor of Schmidt, and the recount ensued. The recount resulted in a tie due to an absentee ballot. Wright won the primary in the coin toss and currently serves as the district 41 representative.

This morning's
New London Day paper reveals some key information about this absentee ballot. A summer resident of Groton Long Point from Weston, MA cast the absentee ballot in the Groton primary. She also votes in her other town of residence. The details can be found in The Day’s article, but in short, they do seem to suggest that the ballot was not rightly cast in the first place.

I voted for another candidate in that primary, but I do recall the outrage of the locals over the whole coin toss idea. While it was the rule, it seemed arbitrary and ridiculous. It even made national headlines and the candidates had their 5 minutes of fame in the national spotlight on some cable news networks. At best, our elections are flawed. This is just one example of an “irregularity” that swayed results in a final, definitive way.

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