Town accused of violations on close Miller-Driscoll vote

Town officials have been accused of violating state election laws in the weeks preceding a vote on the proposed Miller-Driscoll renovation, which passed by 27 votes two weeks ago.

A local action group, Sensible Wilton, sent a complaint Thursday to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) alleging what it says was town officials’ improper use of official school meetings and printed materials to promote a renovation of the primary school.

“These are serious violations of state statutes by town officials,” Alex Ruskewich, president of Sensible Wilton, said in a press release. “With a margin of victory of only 27 votes of over 1,900 votes cast, Sensible Wilton seeks a re-vote.”

As of noon on Monday, SEEC spokesman Josh Foley said the commission had not yet received a complaint from Sensible Wilton, though he said it could “be in today’s mail.”

If it is eventually received, he said the complaint would be brought before the elections commission next Tuesday, Oct. 14. Aside from acknowledging receipt of the complaint, the SEEC is not able to comment publicly on the matter before then.

According to information sent to The Bulletin by the action group on Friday afternoon, Sensible Wilton’s first complaint regards the town’s use of 13 school-sanctioned “Meet the Teacher Open Houses” and “Officially Scheduled Parent Nights” as advocacy sessions for the referendum.

Though the presence of town officials advocating for a “yes” vote could not be independently confirmed at all 13 meetings, a parent told The Bulletin town officials had set up a table in support of the Miller-Driscoll renovation during an open house at the school before the referendum.

It was not immediately clear which aspect of Connecticut election law such canvassing violates but Mr. Ruskewich said “using an official school meeting as an advocacy session to a captive audience is prohibited by state election laws for referenda.”

The second complaint filed by Sensible Wilton regards the town’s distribution of printed materials encouraging voters to “Vote YES” on the referendum.

A subsection of Connecticut’s election laws, Title 9 Chapter 152 Sec. 9-369(b), states municipalities may only distribute printed material regarding a referendum that is “neutral” and “explanatory” in nature.

Though messages from Sensible Wilton state the SEEC has confirmed “that each of the actions detailed in the complaint was a statute violation,” Mr. Foley was not able to comment.

The Bulletin will continue to follow this story as events unfold.