Officials try to turn Election Day into a precision clockwork mechanism. Smooth accuracy is the goal — nobody wants chaos in their electoral system — but there are always curve balls, unforeseen circumstances.
This year was no different.
Below, we present the three craziest things that happened on Election Day 2019 in Connecticut.
1. No ink in the pens at polling places
Early on in the night, elections officials in Greenwich faced an unexpected problem: The pens at the polling places — the actual pens voters were using to fill out their ballots — ran out of ink.
There were a lot of races in Greenwich. Candidates sought seats on the Board of Selectmen, Board of Education, board of taxation, and more.
“That’s lots of circles to fill,” said Republican Registrar of Voters Fred DeCaro III.
DeCaro said he believed it was the number of Representative Town Meeting races that was having the most impact on the pens, but he speculated it could have been a faulty batch of pens.
“Although we buy them close to the election there is no way to know how long they have been sitting in a warehouse,” he said.
2. Candidate shows up to vote, finds out he’s ineligible to run
Stephen Shapiro was running for a seat on the Zoning Board of Appeals in Stratford. When he turned up to vote — for himself, presumably — it turned out he was in the wrong place.
Shapiro lives on the border of two districts, Town Council Districts 8 and 9, and came to vote at the polling place designated for district 8.
He technically lives, though, in district 9. In practice, that meant he was not actually eligible to run for the seat for which he was nominated.
When reached by phone on Election Day, Shapiro didn’t have a comment. He said he was waiting to hear back from the Democratic Town Committee chair, but the problem turned out to be moot.
Shapiro’s Republican opponent, Len Petruccelli, won the race by a margin of 1,166 to 875.
3. State senator argues with a high school student over socialism
State Sen. Tony Hwang grew up in Communist China which is why, he said, he argued so vociferously with a high school student over socialism.
That high school student, by the way, was at the polling place representing the high school’s Democratic Socialists of America group.
The exchange allegedly got heated, bringing the student to tears and prompting a Facebook post from her mother that circulated on social media.
The incident prompted an apology from Hwang.
“I shared with her my perspective, as a family that was impacted by communism and martial law. I spoke very passionately about those types of real life experiences and impacts,” Hwang said. “Upon realizing that she was impacted by the way I spoke, I did go back and apologize.”
Also: A Republican Town Committee chairman is killed on Election Night
It’s not the same kind of an incident, which is why we’re not including it on the list of the “three craziest things” to happen on Election Day. Pens with no ink and voting district snafus can’t be compared to the tragic, unexpected loss of a life.
And John Deeb’s death was anything but expected. The Manchester Republican Town chairman was struck by a car and killed on Election Day.
As the Hartford Courant reported, Deeb’s colleague said he had dropped some paper in the street and bent down to pick it up when he was killed.
It is speculated he was bringing clipboards to the party headquarters.
“John was a great chairman who dedicated his time to Connecticut Republicans and his legacy will stay with our party forever,” the state GOP said on Facebook.