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Danbury Democrats threaten legal action over Seabury controversy

Cross post from HatCityBLOG

This morning, members of the media received the following letter Danbury Democratic Town Committee chairman Gene Eriquez sent to city election officials and senior members of the city council regarding Greg Seabury’s name on the ballot.

Danbury Democratic Town Committee

PO Box 164 161 Main Street

Danbury, CT 06813 203-778-3661

November 7, 2017

Hon. Janice R. Giegler

Town Clerk City of Danbury

City Hall 155 Deer Hill Ave Danbury, CT 06810

The Hon. Margaret Gallo Registrar of Voters City of Danbury

City Hall 155 Deer Hill Ave

Danbury, CT 06810

The Hon. Maryann Doran

Registrar of Voters

City of Danbury City Hall

155 Deer Hill Ave Danbury, CT 06810

Dear Mrs. Giegler, Mrs. Gallo and Ms. Doran: I am saddened by the recent passing of City Councilman Gregg Seabury. Gregg was a valued public servant and educator.

Gregg’s passing is a loss for his family and the City of Danbury as a whole. My respect for Gregg makes me regret the need to draft this correspondence. Unfortunately, I believe it is necessary to make certain facts regarding Mr. Seabury’s presence on the Election Day ballot and the effect of his passing absolutely clear.

First, the law is well established that Conn. Gen. Stat § 9-460 governs what is to occur when a candidate passes less than twenty-four days but more than twenty-four hours before the opening of the polls on Election Day. Specifically, the statute permits the party who nominated the candidate to nominate a replacement candidate. Critically the statute does not allow, as is the law in some states, the candidate to remain on the ballot.

The law is clear and requires that, in the event Mr. Seabury is not replaced on the ballot, his ballot position is vacant and no votes for his election may be counted. This is in contrast to what would occur if his death had occurred less than twenty-four hours prior to the opening of the polls, which would result in the counting of ballots cast for Mr. Seabury and, if he had obtained a plurality, would have created a vacancy to be filled by the City Council.

In this instance, however, Mr. Seabury’s passing occurred on Saturday, November 4, 2017, more than twenty-four hours prior to the opening of the polls. Contrary to claims that have appeared in the press, the fact that his passing occurred on a Saturday is of no legal moment and any claim to the contrary is simply not premised upon the law.

Mr. Seabury’s passing, less than twenty-four days but more than twenty-four hours before the opening of the polls, created a vacant nomination. See, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-460 which clearly holds that in such circumstances the candidate may be replaced or his name removed from the ballot. The statute does not permit the name to remain on the ballot as I understand is intended.

The failure to remove Mr. Seabury’s name, either by having the ballots reprinted with the name of the replacement candidate, having stickers with the replacement candidate’s name placed on the ballots or, in the event no replacement has been nominated, “(C)caus[ing] blank stickers to be so affixed if the vacancy is not filled,” is in direct violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-460 (adding emphasis).

Critically, this means that while he could have been replaced on the ballot, the failure to name a replacement does not permit Mr. Seabury to remain as a candidate on the ballot. Nor may he receive any votes or have votes cast for him counted in any way or for any purpose.

This is an important and critical matter because the press is reporting a claim by Mayor Boughton that he believes that votes cast for Mr. Seabury will be tallied and, should he prevail, his position would be declared vacant and filled by the City Council.

While I understand Mayor Boughton is not an elections official and that he has absolutely no authority over elections decisions, his position as the chief elected official of Danbury and de facto leader of the Republican party requires a response.

This position is contrary to law. As noted above, Mr. Seabury’s passing more than twenty-four hours before the opening of the polls precludes the counting of any votes cast for Mr. Seabury. Moreover, his passing creates a vacancy in the nomination, in other words leaving Mr. Seabury’s former ballot position effectively blank. It does not create a vacancy to be filled by the City Council, which would be dependent upon counting votes for Mr. Seabury which the law does not permit. Please be advised that any attempt to count votes for Mr. Seabury or to certify any electoral effect from any votes cast for Mr. Seabury would be illegal and unlawful. Moreover, any attempt to certify Mr. Seabury as the winner of a seat on the City Council or to declare a vacancy to be filled by the City Council based upon votes cast for Mr. Seabury would also be illegal.

Finally, any attempt to seat an individual in such a seat would be illegal. Please consider this correspondence formal notice that any such action on the part of the Town Clerk or the Registrar of Voters will result in the commencement of a civil action in the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Danbury seeking an Injunction and, if appropriate, a Writ of Quo Warranto.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding the foregoing. Sincerely, Gene F. Eriquez Chair, Danbury Democratic Party

CC: Denise Merrrlll, Secretary of the State

Joseph DaSilva, Jr., Esq.

Laslo Pinter, Esq.

Joseph Cavo, President, City Council

Thomas J. Saadi, Esq., Minority Party Leader, City Council

The News-Times

WLAD News

Hartford Courant

Connecticut Democrats