ANSONIA — The losing candidate (as of publication time) in the election to represent the state Senate’s 17th District rallied with about 30 supporters in front of City Hall Monday to keep all eyes on Ansonia as a recount in the race proceeds.
Democrat Jorge Cabrera said he organized the rally Monday after he and his family went through a “rollercoaster of emotions” since Election Day.
Both campaigns thought Logan held a small lead last Tuesday after polls closed.
Then, on Wednesday morning, the Secretary of the State’s website showed Cabrera had won.
Cabrera said he spent the day celebrating with his family and supporters — only to get a rude awakening Thursday during a lunch in Hartford for newly elected Democratic legislators.
The prospective lawmakers had just finished the salad course when a lawyer working for the Senate Democratic caucus asked Cabrera to step outside.
The news wasn’t good.
“He said Ansonia had re-submitted their numbers.”
Instead of winning the race by 187 votes, the results now showed Cabrera losing by 65.
“All of us were left scratching our heads wondering what had happened,” Cabrera said.
The change occurred after Logan’s campaign had dispatched its lawyers to Ansonia, because final results on the Secretary of the State’s website differed from the campaigns’ tallies there.
They discovered what Democratic Registrar of Voters Thomas Maffeo called a “transcription error” that resulted in the 252-vote swing.
But Logan’s 65-vote winning margin triggered a mandatory a mandatory recount happening this week in the towns of the 17th District — Ansonia, Derby, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Hamden, Naugatuck, and Woodbridge.
Derby conducted its recount Monday, where Cabrera picked up a vote, and Logan lost one.
The Ansonia recount is scheduled to begin 8 a.m. Tuesday in the Erlingheuser Room on the second floor of City Hall.
Meanwhile, the city has formally requested a state investigation into Election Day in Ansonia.
Neither Cabrera, nor anyone from his campaign, has alleged anything nefarious happened with Ansonia’s changing results.
But he and other Democratic lawmakers said it was important to call attention to the process.
“It’s not about the candidates, it’s not about the political party,” Cabrera said. “There’s a more important principle at stake and that’s the principle of making sure that every single vote counts . . . the principle of making sure that our democracy is transparent and that we hold public officials accountable.”
State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff echoed Cabrera’s sentiments.
“The message today really is that people have (confidence in the) integrity in our voting system, that when they cast their ballot, no matter who they cast their ballot for, they feel confident that their vote counts,” he said.
Ansonia residents Leslie Navarette and Liza Estevez also spoke during the rally.
Navarette said she had faith in Ansonia’s registrars of voters, but said Monday’s rally was important to call attention to the recount and the principle that every vote counts.
Estevez said when she put her ballot into a machine on Election Day at Holy Rosary Church, the count on the voting machine didn’t increase.
She said she left the polling place worried that her vote didn’t count, but hoped the recount would straighten things out.
“Sometimes there’s just glitches that happen,” Estevez said.
Other Democrats on hand Monday included state Sen. Gary Winfield, state Senator-elect Mary Abrams, state Senator-elect Matthew Lesser, state Rep. Juan Candelaria, and state representative-elect Quentin Phipps.
After the rally Cabrera said he hadn’t yet heard of any changes to the results.
“I’m waiting and seeing like everyone else,” he said.
“We want to just make sure we shine a light on the process and we let everyone know we’re standing up for the truth, and we want to know what the truth is, and we want to know what happened,” he said.
He said he decided to hold Monday’s rally because “our phones were ringing like crazy from our supporters asking what happened.”
The confusion was apparent earlier Monday after a Veterans Day observance in Ansonia during which Logan spoke. Afterward at least a half-dozen people asked the state senator if there had been any changes in the numbers.
He said Cabrera was free to hold the rally but hoped that the results wouldn’t change again.
Logan agreed that voters should be confident their votes counted.
“A correction was made and we’re doing the recount,” he said. “That will certainly, I think, relieve any issues related to that.”
Republican Registrar of Voters Nancy Valentine declined to comment on the rally or the city’s request for an investigation.
She said she’s confident the recount will show the numbers as the the registrars reported to the state Thursday after Logan’s campaign caught their error.
“When we do the re-canvass tomorrow I’m feeling very confident the results will match our amended returns,” Valentine said.
On Sunday Ansonia Democrats published a prepared statement on Facebook saying that party officials “have full confidence that at the end of this process, all votes will be counted accurately.” The post is embedded below.