Referral of the Secretary of the State
C.G.S. §9-242 requires that if an election candidate is cross-endorsed, and an elector casts more than one vote for the candidate, the head moderator shall: 1.) decide how many unknown votes the candidate received; 2.) decide what percent of the candidate's known votes were received from each party; and 3.) attribute the unknown votes to each party based on this percentage. Allegedly, George Souto, who served as a head moderator in the Nov. 6, 2012, election, reported "unknown" votes for cross-endorsed candidates as "unknown" and did not provide the percentage breakdown required by Connecticut law. Souto wrote a letter to the Secretary of State, claiming that assigning party endorsements to the "unknown" votes "would be an inaccurate and false account of vote totals in Middletown, Connecticut, and as a result a false report of the actual votes cast." Souto opined that "Public Act (11-173) is instructing Head Moderators to ignore voter intent, and falsify Election Returns in order to credit Political Parties with more votes than the Party actually received." Souto, wrote the State Elections Enforcement Commission, "intentionally violated General Statutes §9-242 by refusing to allocate the `unknown' votes via the new pro rata procedure enacted in Public Act 11-173 of the 2011 Public Acts." Souto's failure to report the pro rata distribution of "unknown" votes did not affect any party's ability to achieve or to maintain minor party status. Because Souto willfully violated C.G.S. §9-242, as an act of civil disobedience, and his job was to execute the directives of the statute, as written, "without administratively applying a line-item veto to those passages with which he personally disagreed," the State Elections Enforcement Commission fined Souto $500. The commission waived the penalty, because Souto has no prior violations, and his conduct did not affect any party's ability to maintain or to achieve party status, provided that Souto agrees to comply with C.G.S. §9-242, if he serves as an election official in the future, and that he does not serve as an election, primary or referendum official for three years.