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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
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A Pox on Both Houses in Connecticut Case

HARTFORD (CN) — Neither of two feuding Independent Party candidates for U.S. Senate will appear on the ballot on Election Day, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled.

John Price was nominated by the Waterbury faction of the Independent Party and Dan Carter was nominated by the Danbury faction.

Price sued the party and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to try to get his name on the ballot, but Merrill refused to get involved.

She sent a letter to both factions on Sept. 2, telling them that neither name for U.S. Senate would appear on the ballot.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Palmer heard oral arguments on Sept. 29 and agreed with the defendants to dismiss the case. Under Connecticut law, any appeal of a decision involving a candidate for federal office will be made to the state supreme court.

Palmer concluded that his court does not have jurisdiction because caucus officials are not considered election officials.

Price claimed that officials in the Danbury faction were registered Republicans, not Independent Party members, and that the party affiliations and residences of caucus attendees were never verified.

Palmer declined to decide that issue because the "alleged statutory violations have not been identified with any specificity and because the case may be resolved more readily by asking a different question: whether the caucus officials should be considered 'election officials'."

He concluded that minor party officials responsible for a party caucus are not election officials.

Palmer also criticized Price and the Waterbury faction for waiting two weeks to bring the lawsuit.

"By the time this case was heard on September 29, 2016 overseas and military ballots had already been issued. Printing of absentee ballots was underway, and programming of voting machines was imminent," Palmer wrote.

Reprinting and reprogramming the ballots would cost at least $218,000 and would be borne by the cities and towns affected.

"Given these considerations, the court finds that the secretary of the state has met her burden of establishing a prejudicial delay," Palmer wrote.

He added: "The courts need not shoulder the burden of resolving internecine conflicts on truncated timeline simply because the parties have inexplicably failed to press their claims at an earlier date."

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