Note: This article has been updated to correct an attribution for a quote from Kara Philbin, which was actually from Megan Galletta.
On Tuesday, a week after the municipal elections Greenwich Free Press posted an updated story about the Board of Education results from the Nov 2 election saying a Board of Education candidate had won against a Republican rival by 13 votes.
It was not the first update.
Looking back to election day on Nov 2, in addition to two Democratic candidates running for two slots, there were three endorsed Republican candidates on the ballot running for two slots – Michael-Joseph Mercanti-Anthony, Megan Galletta and Cody Kittle – plus an independent write in candidate Kara Philbin.
On election night night, the votes between Republicans Ms Galletta and Mr. Kittle was very close, and GFP did not announce a winner.
The next day, Wednesday, results from the Secretary of the State Head Moderator’s Return were shared indicating a 36 vote lead for Mr. Kittle over Ms Galletta (8,336 votes to Galletta’s 8,300). The difference was just 36 votes. (Endorsed Republican Michael-Joseph Mercanti-Anthony had the most votes overall with 9,276.)
Then, on Wednesday night, Greenwich Republican Registrar of Voters Fred DeCaro, on behalf of Head Moderator Sharon Vecchiolla, notified Greenwich Board of Education candidates that there would be a recount starting on Thursday morning at 8:00am in the Town Hall meeting room.
The recount wasn’t complete on Thursday and continued throughout Friday.
On Friday, Nov 5, around 3:00pm, the Registrar of Voters announced new results, which had Republican Cody Kittle defeating Megan Galletta by a single vote, and GFP published an update stating such.
Then, on Tuesday, Nov 9, Assistant Town Clerk Kim Spezzano said in an email that Mr. Kittle had won with 13 votes more than Ms Galletta.
Ms Spezzano said in an email that she had announced to all those present on Friday during the recount that the timing was short and that the process would not be completed until Monday.
“As with every election, the Town Clerk’s Office reviews all numbers from tapes and Moderator returns,” Spezzano said in her email, adding, “The reason for this is that the Town Clerk’s Office certifies the winners of every election. There were data entry errors in the Connecticut’s Election Management System. They have been corrected.”
With a week having gone by since election day, Galletta said she remained confused about conflicting election results.
“One of the concerns, which we believe any reasonable person would agree with, is the fact that we have been quoted four different ‘final’ vote totals – and this just doesn’t sit well,” she said in an email, adding, “To date, no one has been able to explain how these four different vote totals came to be.”
“On Friday, we were told by the registrar’s office in an official email, that these numbers of a one vote margin were final, had been reviewed by the town clerk and submitted to the Secretary of State,” Galletta continued. “And when we inquired on Friday about questionable ballots, we were told that the only course of action available was to go to Connecticut Superior Court.”
“Then today (Nov 9), we learned from the press that there are new vote totals from the town clerk’s office,” Galletta added. “This has been a very confusing process. And we are seeking a credible explanation from election officials.”
Philbin recalled how on Friday night she received an email saying the Registrars, Town Clerk and Assistant Town Clerk had certified the election.
“The email blamed the erroneous extra votes on data entry errors in the Connecticut Election Management System that were fixed with ‘no changes or adjustments to tallies after observers left.’ In addition, the email provided the final certified result with a 1 vote margin. If the errors were fixed on Friday and there were no changes or adjustments, how is the margin now 13 votes?” she asked.
“On Thursday, I had specifically asked to see the tallies for each district, including the breakdown of in-person, absentees, write ins, and hand counts, so I could verify that they were added up correctly, but was told that this information would only be made available to me later. But I was never given these numbers, and the next day we were told each BOE candidate suddenly had an extra 3000 unexplained votes and an RTM write-in had an obvious erroneous extra 12,000 votes. When (Ms Galletta) pointed out these large discrepancies, the Registrar and (Assistant Town Clerk) Spezzano packed up and went into a private office. At no point in time did Ms. Spezzano say that, ‘The timing was short and the process would not be complete until Monday,’ as was indicated in the article. I was the last person to leave the room at Town Hall with the doors locked behind me, so I know this was not the case. The next thing we knew, without any consultation or explanation, the certified results with a 1 vote margin were posted.”
She said that nothing less than another recount was warranted, “due to the lack of adherence to procedure and the vastly inconsistent totals.”
On Tuesday (Nov 9) Ms Galletta also shared a comment, saying she too was surprised and confused to read the update about the new set of tallies and a 13 vote lead for Mr. Kittle.
“We remain confused about the conflicting election results. And one of the concerns, which we believe any reasonable person would agree with, is the fact that we have been quoted 4 different ‘final’ vote totals – and this just doesn’t sit well,” she said.
“And to date, no one has been able to explain how these 4 different vote totals came to be,” Galletta added. “On Friday, we were told by the registrar’s office in an official email, that these numbers of a one vote margin were final, had been reviewed by the town clerk and submitted to the Secretary of State. And when we inquired on Friday about questionable ballots, we were told that the only course of action available was to go into Connecticut Superior Court. Then today (Nov 9) we learned from the press that there are new vote totals from the town clerk’s office. This has been a very confusing process. And we are seeking a credible explanation from election officials.”
Meanwhile last Thursday was the last BOE meeting under the leadership of Peter Bernstein. The new board will be sworn in during the next business meeting on Nov 17, at which point they will elect new officers, including Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary.