Ballot Typo Leads Connecticut Voters to Elect Noncandidate

Nov 25, 2011 1:48pm

James J. Butler just won his first election, but he wasn’t even running for office.

Because of a typo on the Derby, Conn., ballot, Butler was unwittingly elected to the city’s Board of Apportionment and Taxation, knocking out the incumbent, his father James R. Butler, who was actually campaigning for the seat.

“I understand that mistakes are made but this one is especially unfortunate,” Derby Republican Town Committee Chairman Tony Szewczy said in a letter to the county clerk pointing out the error. “We will be in violation of State Election law if we allow a person who wasn’t on the ballot and received no votes to be sworn in.  This would also be a huge disservice to our voters.”

The town is now trying to find a legal way to allow the elder Butler to take the seat, which the Democratic Town Committee had nominated him for.  The Democratic Party in Derby is meeting Friday to consider  swearing in the younger Butler at the mandatory Dec. 3 ceremony, then having him immediately resign so his father could fill the vacant seat.

“I was the one they nominated,” Butler Sr. told the Connecticut Post. “My son wants nothing to do with this.”

Av Harris, the spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, told the Post that no one working in the state office had ever heard of a misprint like this happening before.

“This is extremely rare,” he said.

A similar mistake happened last year in the Chicago mayoral race when Green Party candidate Rich Whitney’s name appeared as “R. Whitey” on voter’s selection review page of the electronic voting systems. The error was caught before Election Day, but it cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix.

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