Bridgeport Ballot Mess 2023

The swelter of summer days has transitioned into the crispness of fall – – heralding the season to reset, learn new things and find ways to make an impact. I’m deeply energized and  looking forward to continuing my work as a Fellow at the Yankee Institute researching and writing about Connecticut’s election processes and civic sensibility.

Current election news that deserves attention… 

The September 12th mayoral primary in Bridgeport is now the focus of potential fraud regarding absentee ballots. The Democratic primary was won by incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim, whom you may remember spent seven years in prison and fined $150,000 for corruption. 

The challenger, John Gomes, won at the polls by 470 votes. When the absentee ballots were counted, Mr. Gomes had lost by 251 votes. There is video footage from outside the Bridgeport City Hall showing a woman (the vice chair of Bridgeport Democrats and also assistant Registrar of Voters) appearing to load multiple ballots into the ballot box outside Bridgeport City Hall. She visited that ballot box with bags of ballots five different times during that day. Another man was also videotaped delivering a bag full of absentee ballots that same day. 

State law says absentee ballots can be returned only by the ballot applicant or by their family members, police officers, local election officials or someone who is directly caring for someone who receives an absentee ballot because they are ill or physically disabled.

Why is this important to you… Why should you care?

Trust in our state election process must be a given. In my SOTS campaign last year, I witnessed first hand the integrity and sound governance that the majority of our 169 town clerks and registrar of voters practice every day. Periodically some towns fail in that pursuit and it’s typically related to absentee ballot activity in our urban centers. Though rare, it’s still unsettling. 

The absentee ballot process by law requires a custody of control. In Bridgeport that custody of control was not enforced and is often abused. 

Over the years, many efforts have been made to tighten control of custody of the absentee ballot. Democrats – – who hold the majority in the legislature – – have resisted pragmatic reforms as “barriers to voting”.

Simple reforms that would help: 

  1. Signature verification on the back of the envelope.
  2. Discontinue Ballot-Drop Boxes placed outside town halls during Covid. Absentee ballots must be returned in person to town hall or by mail.
  3. Standardize and enforce absentee ballot processes across the state. 

With the passage last November of the state Constitutional amendment to allow in-person Early Voting, we now have the ability to vote in person 14 days ahead of a general election and 7 days ahead of a primary election with no excuse, starting in January 2024. This virtually eliminates the need to vote by absentee ballot.

One shows up in town hall – during set hours – shows ID (or signs a legal statement testifying you are who you say you are) and votes in person. DONE – at one’s convenience – in an accountable, secure and transparent process.

Across the political spectrum the common goal is for safe, secure and convenient access to voting. Work to increase integrity of the absentee ballot process must continue with legislative effort next session.

Please let me know your thoughts and questions. I’m grateful for your input and thoughts along the way. 

Warm regards,

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