Connecticut Republican Party Sues Secretary of State Over Order of Political Parties on the Ballot

Connecticut election law, sec. 9-249a, says “The names of the parties shall be arranged on ballots in the following order: (1) the party whose candidate for Governor polled the highest number of votes in the last-preceding election; (2) Other parties who had candidates for Governor in the last-preceding election, in descending order, according to the number of votes polled for each such candidate.” At the November 2, 2010 gubernatorial election, the Republican Party polled 560,874 votes; the Democratic Party polled 540,970 votes; the Working Families Party polled 26,308 votes; and the Independent Party polled 17,629 votes.

Notwithstanding the law, the Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, a Democrat, ruled last year that the Democratic Party should be listed first on 2012 and 2014 ballots. Because the Working Families Party nominee and the Democratic Party nominee were the same individual, Dan Malloy, the Secretary of State says the Democratic Party is the party whose candidate for Governor received the most votes. Malloy was elected, but he would have lost except that the Working Families Party nominated him, and thus he received votes under both the Democratic label and the Working Families label. Of course, by the Secretary of State’s logic, one could argue that the Working Families Party has an equal right to the top line.

In New York, which also uses fusion, the order of parties is also determined by the gubernatorial vote for each party, but New York determines the order by looking at the vote for each party, and not the cumulative vote for any particular candidate who has the nomination of more than one party.

On August 9, the Republican Party filed a lawsuit over the order of parties on the ballot. It is Republican Party of Connecticut v Merrill, superior court, Hartford, 027726. The case has a hearing on August 14, Tuesday. The Secretary of State has said publicly that the hearing date is very inconvenient, since August 14 is primary day in Connecticut. The Secretary of State says the Republican Party should have filed this case earlier.


  1. I hate to say it, but the Republican Party of Connecticut is right. The ballot order should be based of votes received on each ballot line and not the combined number of votes received by the Democratic and Working Families parties. If the hearing date is inconvenient for Secretary of State Merrill should have done his job correctly to begin with. Maybe the voters of Connecticut might want to think about replacing him in 2014.

  2. There’s a New York precedent, for whatever that’s worth, in favor of the Connecticut Republican Party’s position. In 1994, George Pataki defeated Mario Cuomo for governor, but Cuomo received more votes as a Democrat than Pataki received as a Republican (Pataki made up the difference thanks to his having the Conservative line as well). The Democrats were entitled to keep Line 1 on the ballot for the next four years even though they hadn’t won the governorship.

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