Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 896

January Session, 2017

 

LCO No. 4288

 

*04288_______GAE*

Referred to Committee on GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION AND ELECTIONS

 

Introduced by:

 

(GAE)

 

AN ACT ASSIGNING CERTAIN ELECTION DISPUTES TO THE SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF HARTFORD.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 9-324 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Any elector or candidate who claims that such elector or candidate is aggrieved by any ruling of any election official in connection with any election for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of the State, State Treasurer, Attorney General, State Comptroller or judge of probate, held in such elector's or candidate's town, or that there has been a mistake in the count of the votes cast at such election for candidates for said offices or any of them, at any voting district in such elector's or candidate's town, or any candidate for such an office who claims that such candidate is aggrieved by a violation of any provision of section 9-355, 9-357 to 9-361, inclusive, 9-364, 9-364a or 9-365 in the casting of absentee ballots at such election or any candidate for the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of the State, State Treasurer, Attorney General or State Comptroller, who claims that such candidate is aggrieved by a violation of any provision of sections 9-700 to 9-716, inclusive, may bring such elector's or candidate's complaint to any judge of the [Superior Court, in which such] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford. Such elector or candidate shall set out in the complaint the claimed errors of such election official, the claimed errors in the count or the claimed violations of said sections. In any action brought pursuant to the provisions of this section, the complainant shall send a copy of the complaint by first-class mail, or deliver a copy of the complaint by hand, to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made prior to such election, such judge shall proceed expeditiously to render judgment on the complaint and shall cause notice of the hearing to be given to the Secretary of the State and the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made subsequent to the election, it shall be brought not later than fourteen days after the election or, if such complaint is brought in response to the manual tabulation of paper ballots authorized pursuant to section 9-320f, such complaint shall be brought not later than seven days after the close of any such manual tabulation. [and, in either such circumstance, such]

(b) Such judge shall forthwith order a hearing to be had upon such complaint, upon a day not more than five nor less than three days from the making of such order, and shall cause notice of not less than three nor more than five days to be given to any candidate or candidates whose election may be affected by the decision upon such hearing, to such election official, the Secretary of the State, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and to any other party or parties whom such judge deems proper parties thereto, of the time and place for the hearing upon such complaint. Such judge shall, on the day fixed for such hearing and without unnecessary delay, proceed to hear the parties. If sufficient reason is shown, such judge may order any voting tabulators to be unlocked or any ballot boxes to be opened and a recount of the votes cast, including absentee ballots, to be made. Such judge shall thereupon, in case such judge finds any error in the rulings of the election official, any mistake in the count of the votes or any violation of said sections, certify the result of such judge's finding or decision to the Secretary of the State before the fifteenth day of the next succeeding December. Such judge may order a new election or a change in the existing election schedule.

(c) Such certificate of such judge of such judge's finding or decision shall be final and conclusive upon all questions relating to errors in the rulings of such election officials, to the correctness of such count, and, for the purposes of this section only, such claimed violations, and shall operate to correct the returns of the moderators or presiding officers, so as to conform to such finding or decision, unless the same is appealed from as provided in section 9-325, as amended by this act.

Sec. 2. Section 9-325 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

If, upon any such hearing by a judge of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, any question of law is raised which any party to the complaint claims should be reviewed by the Supreme Court, such judge, instead of filing the certificate of his finding or decision with the Secretary of the State, shall transmit the same, including therein such questions of law, together with a proper finding of facts, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who shall thereupon call a special session of said court for the purpose of an immediate hearing upon the questions of law so certified. A copy of the finding and decision so certified by the judge of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, together with the decision of the Supreme Court, on the questions of law therein certified, shall be attested by the clerk of the Supreme Court, and by him transmitted to the Secretary of the State forthwith. The finding and decision of the judge of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, together with the decision of the Supreme Court on the questions of law thus certified, shall be final and conclusive upon all questions relating to errors in the rulings of the election officials and to the correctness of such count and shall operate to correct the returns of the moderators or presiding officers so as to conform to such decision of [said court] the Supreme Court. Nothing in this section shall be considered as prohibiting an appeal to the Supreme Court from a final judgment of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford. The judges of the Supreme Court may establish rules of procedure for the speedy and inexpensive hearing of such appeals within fifteen days of such judgment of a judge of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford.

Sec. 3. Section 9-328 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Any elector or candidate claiming to have been aggrieved by any ruling of any election official in connection with an election for any municipal office or a primary for justice of the peace, or any elector or candidate claiming that there has been a mistake in the count of votes cast for any such office at such election or primary, or any candidate in such an election or primary claiming that he is aggrieved by a violation of any provision of sections 9-355, 9-357 to 9-361, inclusive, 9-364, 9-364a or 9-365 in the casting of absentee ballots at such election or primary, may bring a complaint to any judge of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford for relief therefrom. In any action brought pursuant to the provisions of this section, the complainant shall send a copy of the complaint by first-class mail, or deliver a copy of the complaint by hand, to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made prior to such election or primary, such judge shall proceed expeditiously to render judgment on the complaint and shall cause notice of the hearing to be given to the Secretary of the State and the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made subsequent to such election or primary, it shall be brought not later than fourteen days after such election or primary, except that if such complaint is brought in response to the manual tabulation of paper ballots, authorized pursuant to section 9-320f, such complaint shall be brought not later than seven days after the close of any such manual tabulation, to any judge of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, in which he shall set out the claimed errors of the election official, the claimed errors in the count or the claimed violations of said sections.

(b) Such judge shall forthwith order a hearing to be had upon such complaint, upon a day not more than five nor less than three days from the making of such order, and shall cause notice of not less than three nor more than five days to be given to any candidate or candidates whose election or nomination may be affected by the decision upon such hearing, to such election official, the Secretary of the State, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and to any other party or parties whom such judge deems proper parties thereto, of the time and place for the hearing upon such complaint. Such judge shall, on the day fixed for such hearing and without unnecessary delay, proceed to hear the parties. If sufficient reason is shown, he may order any voting tabulators to be unlocked or any ballot boxes to be opened and a recount of the votes cast, including absentee ballots, to be made. Such judge shall thereupon, if he finds any error in the rulings of the election official or any mistake in the count of the votes, certify the result of his finding or decision to the Secretary of the State before the tenth day succeeding the conclusion of the hearing. Such judge may order a new election or primary or a change in the existing election schedule.

(c) Such certificate of such judge of his finding or decision shall be final and conclusive upon all questions relating to errors in the ruling of such election officials, to the correctness of such count, and, for the purposes of this section only, such claimed violations, and shall operate to correct the returns of the moderators or presiding officers, so as to conform to such finding or decision, except that this section shall not affect the right of appeal to the Supreme Court and it shall not prevent such judge from reserving such questions of law for the advice of the Supreme Court as provided in section 9-325, as amended by this act. Such judge may, if necessary, issue [his] a writ of mandamus, requiring the adverse party and those under him to deliver to the complainant the appurtenances of such office, and shall cause his finding and [decree] decision to be entered on the records of the Superior Court in the proper judicial district.

Sec. 4. Section 9-329a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

(a) Any (1) elector or candidate aggrieved by a ruling of an election official in connection with any primary held pursuant to (A) section 9-423, 9-425 or 9-464, or (B) a special act, (2) elector or candidate who alleges that there has been a mistake in the count of the votes cast at such primary, or (3) candidate in such a primary who alleges that he is aggrieved by a violation of any provision of sections 9-355, 9-357 to 9-361, inclusive, 9-364, 9-364a or 9-365 in the casting of absentee ballots at such primary, may bring his complaint to any judge of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford for appropriate action. In any action brought pursuant to the provisions of this section, the complainant shall file a certification attached to the complaint indicating that a copy of the complaint has been sent by first-class mail or delivered to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made prior to such primary such judge shall proceed expeditiously to render judgment on the complaint and shall cause notice of the hearing to be given to the Secretary of the State and the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made subsequent to such primary it shall be brought, not later than fourteen days after such primary, or if such complaint is brought in response to the manual tabulation of paper ballots, described in section 9-320f, such complaint shall be brought, not later than seven days after the close of any such manual tabulation, to any judge of the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford.

(b) Such judge shall forthwith order a hearing to be held upon such complaint upon a day not more than five nor less than three days after the making of such order, and shall cause notice of not less than three days to be given to any candidate or candidates in any way directly affected by the decision upon such hearing, to such election official, to the Secretary of the State, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and to any other person or persons, whom such judge deems proper parties thereto, of the time and place of the hearing upon such complaint. Such judge shall, on the day fixed for such hearing, and without delay, proceed to hear the parties and determine the result. If, after hearing, sufficient reason is shown, such judge may order any voting tabulators to be unlocked or any ballot boxes to be opened and a recount of the votes cast, including absentee ballots, to be made. Such judge shall thereupon, if he finds any error in the ruling of the election official, any mistake in the count of the votes or any violation of said sections, certify the result of his finding or decision to the Secretary of the State before the tenth day following the conclusion of the hearing. Such judge may (1) determine the result of such primary; (2) order a change in the existing primary schedule; or (3) order a new primary if he finds that but for the error in the ruling of the election official, any mistake in the count of the votes or any violation of said sections, the result of such primary might have been different and he is unable to determine the result of such primary.

(c) The certification by the judge of his finding or decision shall be final and conclusive upon all questions relating to errors in the ruling of such election official, to the correctness of such count, and, for the purposes of this section only, such alleged violations, and shall operate to correct any returns or certificates filed by the election officials, unless the same is appealed from as provided in section 9-325, as amended by this act. In the event a new primary is held pursuant to such [Superior Court] order of the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, the result of such new primary shall be final and conclusive unless a complaint is brought pursuant to this section. The clerk of the court shall forthwith transmit a copy of such findings and order to the Secretary of the State.

Sec. 5. Section 9-329b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective from passage):

At any time prior to a primary held pursuant to sections 9-423, 9-425 and 9-464, or a special act or prior to any election, the [Superior Court] superior court for the judicial district of Hartford may issue an order removing a candidate from a ballot where it is shown that [said] such candidate is improperly on the ballot.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

from passage

9-324

Sec. 2

from passage

9-325

Sec. 3

from passage

9-328

Sec. 4

from passage

9-329a

Sec. 5

from passage

9-329b

Statement of Purpose:

To require that certain disputes concerning elections or primaries be brought before, and adjudicated by, a judge of the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]