In a lawsuit filed Monday afternoon, City Councilman Marcus Brown, down one vote following a recount in which he started with an election-night, five-vote lead against incumbent State Rep. Jack Hennessy, is requesting a hand recount of all the votes tabulated in the August 9 Democratic primary or in lieu of that an order for a new election.
Despite acknowledging nine votes mysteriously missing in the recanvassing, election officials certified a one-vote win for Hennessy. See Brown complaint here
Brown attorney John Kennelly, who specializes in election complaints, has named Hennessy, chief moderator James Mullen, Democratic Registrar Patricia Howard, Town Clerk Don Clemons and state election office among the defendants.
The complaint requests an expedited hearing that could come by the end of the week. The looming question: what happened to the nine votes counted election night but not during the recanvassing? Election officials surmise the ballots were secured in an improper bag of another district. They were unsure about the legality of searching through bags not associated with the 127th Assembly District.
If the judge approves the request, a hand count of more than 1,100 votes will ensue if all the ballots can be located. The certified vote is Hennessy 566, Brown 565. Brown won the walk-in vote handily. Hennessy’s absentee ballot operation eclipsed Brown by nearly two to one.
The judge assigned to the case will likely set a court hearing later this week to establish a timetable for briefs from the parties and court testimony.
From the complaint:
Brown issued this statement after last week’s recount:
We are very disappointed to hear about the major recount issues and irregularities today with respect to the primary for State Representative for the 127th District. Today, the Head Moderator certified a result, based on the ballots and information they had available, that was a shocking 20 votes different from what was reported by the Registrar of Voters to the Secretary of State on Primary Day. Furthermore, election officials and observers in the room publicly acknowledge that 9 absentee ballots that were cast and counted by Primary Day are now mysteriously missing. After searching for them for a good part of the day, the unfortunate decision was to certify the incomplete results of this election.
The newly certified number, which is 20 votes less than what was reported last Tuesday, yielded a net loss of six votes for Brown, which is an extremely unlikely outcome in a recount of just over a thousand votes cast. But as questionable as that outcome may be, election officials acknowledge that the actual result of this election–with a margin of 1 vote that separates the candidates–is in serious doubt as they are unable to explain why there is a 20 vote difference between their counts today and last Tuesday, nor the whereabouts of the 9 missing absentee ballots.