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"Close-Vote Recounts" and RTM Races

This statement is being issued jointly by both Registrars of Voters in advance of the November 7 election.  It is being made prior to the election so that candidates can be assured that the statement is not directed at any particular winner or loser on Election Day.

The law (CGS-Sec. 9-311a) currently states that any election which has a difference between the winning candidate and the losing candidate of less than one-half of one percent shall automatically require a recount (referred to as a "recanvas" in the statutes).

The recount may be waived by the losing candidate.

However, the law also says that a recount is automatically generated if the difference is less than 20 votes.  In our RTM contests, which only occur in individual districts and where the average candidate only gets 3-400 votes, the vote totals in any contested race almost always have a difference of less than 20 votes.  

A recanvas requires recounting (via a tabulator) all of the district's ballots from an election, including absentee ballots.  It also requires notifying the candidates (which is upwards of 20 candidates in most districts).  Due to time constraints we usually have to hire someone to personally hand deliver the notification of a canvass.

Typically, the day after the election the Registrars contact the candidates and explain the situation to the RTM candidates.

In this upcoming election cycle, there are more RTM candidates than seats available in seven districts.  And the average candidate gets about 300 votes.  So a 20 vote difference is more like a 6.67% difference than the statutory a .5% difference.  And in the numerous audits conducted in Greenwich and throughout the state, we have not found even the slightest discrepancies as to how the tabulators count the ballots.  The possibility of a recount adjusting the outcome of such a high percentage of ballots is extremely unlikely.

As has been our custom, the Registrars will contact the candidates and review the difference in votes between the winning and losing candidate.   Depending on the size of the difference, we may point out that based on our prior experience it is unlikely a recount will change the outcome.  At this point, it is entirely up to the candidate to decide whether they will take action and waive the recount, or do nothing and allow the recount to occur.  Any candidate who wants to proceed with a recount is well within their rights to do so.  We simply want to point out the uniqueness of an RTM race and how it triggers automatic recounts at a rate far in excess of most elections based on this 20 vote threshold in the state statute.

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Peter Tesei
Peter Tesei
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