State looks into possible ballot fraud in Bridgeport
BRIDGEPORT, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut’s Elections Enforcement Commission met on Wednesday and said it is looking into claims of ballot fraud that happened during the Bridgeport mayoral primary.
The claims were made when a video surfaced that showed a woman who supported incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim stuff envelopes into a ballot box.
“It is of paramount to this commission that Connecticut’s elections and primaries are conducted freely and fairly and we are committed to working diligently to ensure that remains the case,” said Stephen Penny, chair, Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission.
Two investigations have been opened.
One centers on the surveillance video. The other looks into the use, distribution, and possession of absentee ballots a the Fireside Apartments, which is senior and disabled public housing in the Park City.
The commission said it will be using its subpoena power as part of its investigation.
“Absentee ballot application distribution lists, absentee ballot application perspective absentee ballot applicant lists, absentee ballot applications, and absentee ballots set inner and outer envelopes,” said State Attorney William B. Smith with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
The Democratic challenger to Ganim, John Gomes, claimed the election was stolen. The secretary of the state held a news conference to address the allegations of absentee ballot fraud earlier this week.
The video posted to Gomes’s Campaign Fakebook page showed the woman stuffing envelopes into the absentee ballot drop box outside the Government Center several times in the early morning hours of Sept. 5.
“Hopefully the SEEC, along with Gov. [Ned] Lamont [and the ] secretary of the state do what needs to be done in order to bring back the integrity of every vote that goes into the ballot box, because how do we go forward with a November election to secure that every vote counts fairly,” Gomes said.
Gomes and his campaign said they were in the process of filing a lawsuit, not only to seek a judge to prevent last week’s election results from being certified, but also to ask for a new Democratic primary.
“Right now there is a black cloud over Bridgeport, there is no trust. We walk around and I don’t know what to tell the people,” Gomes said. “The evidence is completely different [and] overwhelming. We always talked about things that have happened, could have happened, but when you catch it as it is, in motion, in video, it speaks for itself.”
Gomes said the woman in the video was a supporter of Ganim and added that she was already being investigated for questions surrounding absentee ballots four years ago.
Gomes claimed the election was stolen since according to the Secretary of the State’s Office, only a voter, a designee of a voter who’s sick or disabled, or a family member can put a ballot in a drop box.
Ganim defeated Gomes, a one time ally and political aide who worked under him, by a 251 vote margin.
On primary election night, Gomes said he had the lead thanks to the in-person voting at the polls, but the absentee ballot count, which broke nearly 2-1 pushed Ganim over the top.
Ganim’s campaign didn’t respond to repeated requests to make the mayor available to address the claim.
Ganim recently talked with Chaz and AJ on 99.1 PLR, claiming he had no knowledge of any alleged wrongdoing.
“That would never be condoned, not anything my campaign, me personally want to be a part of.. if that’s the situation I’m confident the PD will figure it out,” Ganim said.
Now the SEEC said it will do so as well.
“They will be thoroughly investigated. We will work and are already working with other law enforcement agencies to determine what the facts are and when we learn them, those facts will be brought to light,” said Penny.
Lamont weighed in and called the video “disturbing.”
“Don’t jump to conclusions, I say that every time, but I really want to thoroughly investigate this,” Lamont said. “The integrity of our electoral system is so important and I’ve got to make sure people have confidence.”
Police said they continue to investigate this issue, and Gomes filed a number of complaints with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
As for the general election in November, he secured a spot on the Independent line, so both men will be on the ballot.
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