|The Middletown ballot in question.|
Connecticut law requires that all minor party candidates submit a signature with their party's request for admission to the municipal ballot. That law went into effect in 2010, but was
ignored in 2011 elections when minor party candidates were added to the ballots in towns throughout Connecticut without the required signatures. This year, those candidates have been challenged and minor party candidates have been forced off the ballot in several towns, including Middletown. Neither Democratic or Republican candidates are required to provide signatures in municipal elections, but all candidates are required to provide signatures in state and federal elections.
In East Hampton, the Chatham party holds the majority of seats on several town boards and commissions and could be be considered the majority party. However, because they are not Democratic or Republican, they were required to include signatures, and did not. Their place on the ballot was in question until the Town Clerk of Chatham and the party crafted an agreement to allow the candidates on the ballot, and this agreement was ratified in Middletown Superior Court Monday.
Superior Court Judge Edward Domnarski endorsed a stipulated agreement by the East Hampton Town Clerk and minor party candidates ordering the candidates be placed on the ballot for various offices.
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill praised the judgement.
Merrill said, "Judge Domnarski's decision is good for the voters of East Hampton. It is always in the best interest of voters to have choices on the ballot, and I am relieved the judge resolved the issue. It was never the intention of my office or any town clerk to keep candidates from this minor party or others off the ballot this November."
Judge Domnarski praised the candidates, the East Hampton Town Clerk and the Secretary of State's office for working out an agreement to allow ballot access.
"I commend you all on doing that," Domnarski said.
Middletown City Attorney Brig Smith, and mayoral chief of staff Joe Samolis were in the Middletown courtroom to witness the proceedings.
Windham was faced with a similar decision when the endorsements of the Bottom Line Party were handed in without the required signatures of every candidate. The Windham Town Clerk, Patricia Spruance, decided unilaterally in favor of ballot access. All eight Bottom Line Party endorsed candidates will appear on the ballot.
Merrill's office has declared that the it is the responsibility of the Town Clerk in every municipality to certify candidates for the ballot in municipal elections.
As was reported yesterday, Middletown has printed and distributed absentee ballots without the names of Realistic Balance party endorsed candidates. Most of those candidates appear on the ballot on other party lines, with the exception of Planning and Zoning candidate Stephen Smith, whose name was dropped completely from the Realistic Balance party line.
On the Colin McEnroe radio show on WNPR Monday, which featured appearances by Realistic Balance Party mayoral candidate John Killian and Democratic Planning and Zoning candidate Stephen Devoto, Merrill stated that her office might be called into the vote count if those ballots are contested. She noted that in the last election, contested ballots in New London were counted by her office in a race that was decided by three votes.