Sunday, September 13, 2009

From 1979: Count Affirms Cubeta Victory, Loffredo Considers Appeal

This article appeared in The Hartford Courant exactly 30 years ago today, on September 13th, 1979. It was written by Jon Lender.

Democrat Michael J. Cubeta Jr. officially was declared a three-vote winner Wednesday after Tuesday night's mayoral primary results were recounted, but his opponent said he is considering a court appeal because on a District 4 voting machine broke during the election [sic].

One District 6 absentee ballot, counted towards Cubeta's total Tuesday night, was disqualified during Wednesday's recount because it wasn't marked clearly, officials said. The change reduced Cubeta's victory total to 2,610 votes over Democratic Town Committee-endorced Vincent J. Loffredo, who drew 2,607 votes.

Loffredo said Wednesday he probably would decide within two days if he would appeal the election, an action that conceivably could force a new vote.

The only voting machine at Central School, the District 4 polling place, was broken Tuesday for 40 to 50 minutes between 6 and 7 p.m., a peak voting period. District 4, which includes Wesleyan University, was Loffredo's strongest district. It gave him 230 votes to Cubeta's 80 district votes.

John F. Pickett, the Democratic Party attorney, said Wednesday that any person who appeared at Central School and didn't get to vote because of the broken machine should call him at his home or office.

Picket said he isn't supporting either Cubeta for [sic] Loffredo, but is fulfilling the party's obligation to assure that the city Democrats mayoral nominee is chosen in a valid manner.

Picket indicated his legal research might take several days as he wants to discover if any court appeal would have a reasonable chance of success.

Loffredo said the broken machine is the major problem being researched, but not the only one.

After the machine broke Tuesday night, it took 40 to 50 minutes for a spare machine to be installed. Central School wasn't required to have two machines because only one machine is required for every 900 voters. District 4 has 603 registered Democrats.

Four persons called the Democratic registrar of voters' office with reports that they--or, in one case, a friend of the caller--had been prevented from voting at Central School because of the broken machine, Assistant Democratic Registrar Ann McCormack said.

However, three of the allegedly-aggrieved persons wouldn't give their names and, in the fourth call, the person gave a name that didn't appear on the district voting list, Mrs. McCormack said.

The main factors in Cubeta's victory were his resounding success in District 6, where he polled 581 to Loffredo's 361 and Loffredo's 385 votes in District 1 compared to Cubeta's 312 votes. Loffredo workers had been hoping for a 200-vote win in that North End district.

Wednesday's recount took about 90 minutes on the second floor of the Pease Avenue warehouse of Casserino's Moving and Storage Co., where the voting machines are kept.

Chief moderator Philip Salafia read all the machine totals, and then two person from each candidates campaign staff counted absentee ballots.
Loffredo unsuccessfully challenged the election results in Superior Court, charging that there were sufficient irregularities that a new election should be held. According to the Sep. 29, 1979 Courant, "Resident Judge Henry J. Naruk said in his 17-page ruling that Vincent J. Loffredo, a Middletown councilman, didn't prove that he might have lost the election to fellow councilman Michael J. Cubeta because of the improper actions of election officials."

Cubeta handily won the general election, winning office at the age of 28. Two years later, he roundly defeated Republican William Corvo (30 years old) in the general election. In 1983 he was defeated by Republican Sebastian Garafolo. Loffredo, who was 34 in 1979, was reelected to the Council in 1981.

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