Confusion Over Recount Delays, but Does Not Change, Result in Colchester

COLCHESTER – A recount of the Board of Selectmen results affirmed the outcome of Tuesday’s election, with slight changes to the vote totals, but without changes to which candidates earned seats on the board.

The recount Wednesday night at the Colchester Town Hall was long and uneventful, affirming that Deborah Bates, Denise Turner, Rosemary Coyle and Jason LaChapelle will have seats on the Board of Selectmen – while Taras Rudko will not retain his seat on the board. Despite the quiet evening, questions about why a recount wasn’t held sooner persisted.

Rudko, who earned one more vote on the recount than the initial count, but still fell 20 votes short of fellow Republican Jason LaChapelle, said he delivered a letter to the Town Clerk Gayle Furman after the initial count, stating that there should be a recount because the margin between him, LaChapelle and Democratic Selectwoman Rosemary Coyle, was within the margin where an automatic recount is required — a half of a percent of all votes cast. 

Rudko said he didn’t ask the town to hold a recount, he pointed out that a recount was required by law. 

“There’s a statute, you have to follow the statute,” he said. 

Town Clerk Gayle Furman said that the election moderator did not call for a recount following Rudko’s letter due to a misunderstanding about the statute.

Accordinf to Furman, the statute is ambiguous, listing both a numerical threshold of 20 votes and a percentage threshold of votes cast — half of a percent. Furman said the registrars subsequently “did their homework” and realized the statute did call for a recount. 

Rudko said the ultimate decision to hold a recount didn’t happen until he had contacted the Secretary of the State’s Office to raise his concerns that one was required. According to Election moderator Gregg LePage, there was “back and forth” with the Secretary of the State’s office over when the statute called for an automatic recount, and the office informed Colchester on Monday that a recount was required.

Rudko and LaChapelle both said they received no notice of the recount, written or otherwise. Rudko said he found out about the recount Tuesday night at a Republican Town Committee meeting, leaving him without the time to find representatives for the recount. 

Rudko said that while he isn’t happy that he received the lowest vote total and didn’t earn a seat of the Board of Selectmen, he is proud of the success that the Republican slate had. 

According to Rudko, a lack of transparency had left voters unaware of how issues in town hall would affect them — something that was apparent, he said, by the low turnout for referendums, even on multi-million dollar bonding efforts. He said the “clean sweep” voters gave the Republican slate was “accountability” for bad behavior and that lack of transparency.

Last Tuesday, Colchester’s municipal election had one of the highest voter turnout rates in Connecticut.

He said that he had spent his time on the board fighting for transparency, and the results of the Republican slate show that message resonated with voters.

“Even if it means taking a loss, I did what I set out to do,” Rudko said.

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