BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) – In Bridgeport’s contentious Democratic mayoral primary last year, 105 more votes were cast than there were voters who checked in at polling places, according to an examination by the Connecticut Post of ballots cast.

Bill Finch, then a state senator, defeated state Rep. Christopher Caruso by 270 votes of about 9,000 cast to win the party nomination. He was elected in November.

Caruso quickly appealed his Sept. 11 primary loss in Superior Court, claiming that numerous election laws were violated. The judge dismissed his case and he was rebuffed in an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Following the newspaper’s ballot count, which was reported Sunday, Caruso told the Connecticut Post he believes ballots were passed illegally through voting machines to increase his opponent’s vote.

“I’ve said from the beginning that this election was stolen,” he said. “You only needed a few votes to swing that election one way or the other. When you put it all together, there was a conspiracy between the Democratic Town Committee, supporters of Finch and a willing registrar of voters.”

City officials say the primary was fair, the results were accurate and that Finch legitimately won.

“The vote is accurate. I’m really, really sure of that,” said Santa Ayala, the Democratic Registrar of Voters, who ran the election.

Finch said he’s confident there were no significant problems in the election.

“As determined by the state Supreme Court, the minor irregularities in this primary were no different from any other election under either the new or old voting systems,” the mayor said.

Adam Joseph, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, said it’s not unusual to find a few more votes than voters in a given polling place because poll workers make mistakes such as forgetting to cross out the name of a voter who was given a ballot.

But he said the discrepancy found by the newspaper was too large to be considered “usual” and easily attributed to simple mistakes. He declined to comment further, citing an investigation by the state Elections Commission.

A spokeswoman for the Elections Commission confirmed that an investigation is continuing but declined to give details.

Caruso said the results of the primary could not be trusted because of dozens of alleged violations of election law such as allegations of polls that did not open on time, allowing only one person to supervise a polling place, improper signatures on voting forms, inadequate staffing of the polls and insufficient training of poll workers.

The Post calculated the 105 additional votes by counting the number of voters who checked in at each of Bridgeport’s 23 polling places and comparing it with the “machine count” of ballots that passed through the machine.

Information from: Connecticut Post,

AP-ES-06-15-08 1454EDT

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