Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today issued the following statements praising decisions by two separate judges resolving the legal cases of third party candidates for municipal office in the towns of Easton in one case and East Hampton in the other. Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis today rejected a lawsuit filed by petitioning candidates under the Easton Coalition party designation seeking to be placed on the ballot for the Nov. 5, municipal election. The Easton Coalition candidates sued Secretary Merrill after their nominating petitions to get on the ballot were rejected by her office. Secretary Merrill’s office rejected the petitions by Easton Coalition candidates because they lacked an accompanying letter of endorsement from the party, required by law to be filed with the secretary of the state by Sept. 4 of this year. “Although it is disappointing for voters in Easton that the Easton Coalition candidates won’t be on the ballot this fall, Judge Bellis made the right decision,” Secretary Merrill stated. “It is a good reminder that all of us who serve the public are bound to uphold the law. The Easton Coalition failed to file a legally required document with my office by the Sept. 4 deadline, so by law, I had to reject their petitions.
“My office is given the legal authority to approve general election nominating petitions for those who want to run independently or under a party designation. The law unequivocally states that those candidates who want to petition their way onto the ballot under a party designation must file a separate letter of endorsement from the party.
“This is not a trivial matter, and the law was put in place for a reason. The letter of endorsement is the only legal document we have confirming that the party wants these candidates on the ballot, and these candidates want to represent their chosen party on the ballot. There have actually been recent cases where either the candidate was endorsed by a party without their consent, or local minor parties were unaware candidates were petitioning under the party name.
“This law requiring a separate letter of endorsement was designed to eliminate those scenarios. We don’t rejoice in this legal victory, as it deprives Easton voters a choice on the ballot for these municipal seats. The responsibility for this result, however, rests with the members of the Easton Coalition.”