BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The John Gomes for Mayor of Bridgeport campaign filed a lawsuit Tuesday, asking a judge to overturn the results of the primary election and to order a new election be held.
It comes on the heels of dubious surveillance video showing possible election fraud. It’s also putting a state spotlight on the overall security of absentee ballots.
Republican leaders at the state capitol are calling on Democratic leaders to tackle this issue of election security. Not next year, but next week, during a special session.
“I don’t think this can wait,” said State Senate Republican leader Kevin Kelly.
The video obtained by the Gomes campaign allegedly shows city employee and Mayor Joe Ganim supporter, Wanda Geter-Pataki, stuffing white envelopes into an absentee ballot drop box outside the Margaret Morton Government Center.
“We have said for years that those need to be in the municipal buildings, not outside. And until we can get this so that it’s secure I think we’ve got to stop that process,” remarked Kelly.
State Democratic leaders agree that it’s concerning.
“It causes concern if people don’t have faith in the integrity of the system,” remarked Gov. Ned Lamont.
“The public is correctly concerned. And outraged,” added Sec. of the State Stephanie Thomas.
But does the law need to change?
“If we have to tighten up any of the regulations to give people confidence we will. But I just can’t jump to conclusions right now,” said Lamont.
The law currently allows campaign operatives to solicit absentee ballot applications and there is no limit on how far in advance they can be taken out. The actual ballots, however, must be mailed to the individual. A completed ballot can only be returned to a drop box by the voter, a designated caretaker of a voter with an illness or disability. Or if it’s a student or a member of their immediate family.
“This situation is not about partisan politics. It’s not about a broken electoral system, it isn’t even about absentee ballots. It’s about a few bad actors and an under-educated electorate,” said Sec. Thomas.
State Sen. Kelly rebutted, “This is an electoral issue. This is something that needs to be addressed. To blame the good people of Bridgeport that it’s their fault that this happened is just a misplaced priority and I find that comment offensive.”
The Gomes campaign lawsuit accuses the Ganim campaign of the illegal depositing of absentee ballots, distribution of ballot applications and completion of ballots. The lawsuit says, "The result of the election is seriously in doubt.”
The Secretary of the State told FOX61 that expanding absentee voting even further may actually be more secure.
“If an absentee ballot application is sent to everyone, the lists are cleaner and it puts more power in the hands of individual voters,” explained Thomas.
Connecticut voters will decide in 2024 whether to change the state constitution to allow for no-excuse absentee voting. Lawmakers also told FOX61 they’ll continue to try and find bipartisan compromise on an early voting provision.
As for next week's special session, sources tell FOX61 the chances of adding election security to the agenda are slim to none.
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