Judge overturns results of Democrat primary in Connecticut mayoral race after allegations of voter fraud

News & Politics

A judge has overturned the results of the Democrat primary for the mayoral race in Bridgeport, Connecticut, after viewing compelling evidence of voter fraud. His ruling creates chaos for the general election that is scheduled to take place in just a few days.

On September 12, incumbent Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim narrowly edged out challenger John Gomes by a mere 251-vote margin in the Democrat primary. Primary election day ballots favored Gomes, but after absentee ballots were tallied later that evening, Ganim prevailed over Gomes, 4,212 to 3,961.

Within days, the Gomes camp cried foul, posting a video to Facebook that appeared to show Wanda Geter-Pataky, a city employee and a long-standing supporter of Mayor Ganim, stuffing a ballot box outside City Hall with absentee ballots. The Gomes campaign later issued similar allegations against Eneida Martinez, a former city council member who also supports Ganim.

Gomes then filed a lawsuit in Fairfield Judicial District Superior Court to contest the results of the primary election, naming Ganim as well as city clerk Charles Clemons, Bridgeport Democratic registrar of voters Patricia Howard, and Connecticut Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas as defendants.

On Wednesday, Judge William Clark sided with plaintiff Gomes, citing “significant mishandling of ballots by partisans” such as Geter-Pataky and Martinez. In fact, the sheer volume of evidence was “perhaps unprecedented in the State of Connecticut in an election case,” the judge said.

“The evidence here has involved hundreds of applications and ballots, thousands of hours of video of drop boxes, testimony of partisan actors, assertion of privilege against self-incrimination by Ms. Geter-Pataky and Ms. Martinez, and analysis of ballot numbers, particularly in the voting Districts linked to Ms. Geter-Pataky and Ms. Martinez,” Judge Clark wrote in the 37-page ruling.

Mayor Ganim was also called to testify in the case and said he was “shocked” by the evidence, including an 18-minute video of possible absentee ballot fraud committed by his supporters. “Mr. Ganim was … correct to be ‘shocked’ at what he saw on the video clips. … The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties,” Judge Clark concluded.

The judge, however, was not convinced that improperly stamped absentee ballots from the primary election should have been tossed, as Gomes’ attorney, Bill Bloss, had recommended. An assistant town clerk testified that the official stamp with city clerk Charles Clemons’ signature on it had broken, and while Judge Clark indicated that the city should have taken steps to rectify the issue of the broken stamp more quickly, he added that “the court recognizes the practical realities on the ground.”

Though Clark refused to nullify the absentee ballots without Clemons’ stamped signature, he did rule that a new Democratic mayoral primary election was warranted. He then gave attorneys 10 days to confer with state and local officials regarding a new primary election.

While Gomes is celebrating Clark’s ruling as “a victory for the people of Bridgeport,” that victory complicates the general election for Bridgeport mayor scheduled for November 7. Ganim will still be listed as the Democratic nominee on the ballot, while Gomes will be listed as an independent candidate. David Herz will be listed as the Republican.

Lamond Daniels is also running for mayor of Bridgeport, and his campaign website refers to him as a Democrat. It’s unclear what party affiliation he will have on the ballot, if he appears on the ballot at all.

Bloss, Gomes’ attorney, speculated to the CT Examiner that the city will likely host another primary election in December if and only if Mayor Ganim wins re-election. If one of the other candidates prevails in the general election, the city will likely scrap the primary election do-over.

Bloss also suggested that Geter-Pataky and Martinez may even face criminal prosecution at some point. That would hardly be a first for Geter-Pataky. She already will likely face criminal charges for alleged voter fraud in connection with the 2019 Bridgeport mayoral primary race, a race that Ganim barely won after a significant absentee ballot dump late in the evening pushed him over the top.

“I got your back, Mayor,” Geter-Pataky once assured Ganim in a video of a mayoral campaign event.

And Ganim himself, who was first elected Bridgeport mayor in 1991, served seven years in prison for accepting bribes and kickbacks while in office. After he was released, he won his old mayoral seat back in 2015, followed by re-election four years later.

Ganim is still considering whether to appeal Clark’s ruling. In the meantime, he is encouraging local residents to get out the vote in the general election next week.

The following is a video from primary day back in September, before Ganim was declared the winner. Gomes was leading in the vote count at the time this news report aired.

Bridgeport Mayoral Democratic Primary race not yet decided on election nightwww.youtube.com

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