One-vote margin in Griswold spurs first selectman vote recount

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Nov. 11, 2013
- Contributed Photo

A three-way first selectman’s race in Griswold turned into a one-vote decision that at press time had yet to be decided by a state-mandated recount. Republican challenger Kevin Skulczyck edged out incumbent First Selectman Philip Anthony in the vote count by a tally of 853-852. Petitioning candidate Edmund Burke received 398 votes.

The recount was scheduled to be conducted by local election officials at Town Hall on Nov. 13. Anthony said that both Republican and Democratic parties had requested permission to have an attorney present for the recount.

Glen Norman, the election’s head moderator, said that a snafu on election night resulted in Anthony’s being informed prematurely that he had won by a 17-vote margin. Norman said that he was using an older spreadsheet to tally the results by district, and inadvertently overlooked Election Day registrations (EDR) in his initial count. Those new registrations numbered fewer than 30, he said. “What are the chances, just from a statistical point of view [that it would change the outcome]?” he said.

When the EDRs were counted, Skulczyck received 20 votes, to only three each for Anthony and Burke, Norman said. That difference gave Skulczyck the one-vote edge. State statute requires a recount when the margin of votes is either fewer than 20 or half of a percent of the voter total, he said.

This is the first election that has allowed walk-in registration for new voters, said Registrar of Voters Carol Seaman. They cannot register at all polling places, but must visit the desk set up for that purpose at Town Hall. The transition isn’t complete and there’s still some confusion, she said.

“The state paperwork didn’t even have the EDR,” she said. “Because it’s the first year, we’re all hoping we’re doing it right. I think this was a good test, because next year will be the governor’s race, and more people will be interested [in voting].”

The new Board of Selectmen members will take their oath of office on schedule Nov. 19, just six days after the results are finalized, Norman said. If the recount bears out the initial tally, Skulczyck would become first selectman. Incumbent Steve Mikutel, who ran for second selectman and received 1,136 votes, would be sworn in as second selectman and Anthony would serve as third selectman.
Both Skulczyck and Anthony said they were willing to work together with their former rival for the good of the town. “I can work with, and I have worked with, just about any personality,” said Anthony. “My commitment is to the betterment and the best interest of my town. That’s my sole focus.”

“I am ecstatic that we got so many people to come out and vote,” said Skulczyck. He said that in a three-way race, the incumbent usually has the advantage, but that he knocked on hundreds of doors and used social media to press his case to voters. “I’m a little bit surprised that we were able to hang with the big boys,” he said.

Skulczyck said that he looked forward to working with Anthony and Mikutel, however the board was configured. “I have no issue talking with Phil… and Steve and I see eye to eye on a lot of things,” he said. His goal, he said, was to “make sure we represent the town of Griswold’s people, and that their voices are heard.”

Burke, for his part, declined to say whether his role as a third candidate siphoned votes away from the two major parties. “I think my voters were pretty independent and willing to make a choice for the best candidate,” he said. “I’m not disappointed with our effort. I think the future’s going to be very interesting.” 

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