On Saturday, John Gomes’ mayoral campaign released a video that appears to reveal evidence of potential election fraud during the Bridgeport Democratic primary.
The video has prompted an investigation by the Bridgeport Police Department into possible misconduct.
The video on the Gomes campaign’s Facebook page shows a woman who appears to be dropping stacks of ballots into an absentee ballot box outside the Bridgeport government center, which houses the city’s Registrar of Voters office, according to CT Mirror.
The Gomes campaign was able to accurately identify the woman in the footage as Wanda Geter-Pataky, the Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic Town Clerk and an outspoken proponent of incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim’s reelection bid. According to Gomes’ campaign, the video displays Geter-Pataky delivering stacks of absentee ballots prior to the September 12th primary.
“Video surveillance proving that the mayoral election was unequivocally stolen through corruption within City Hall by tampering with absentee ballots,” John Gomes said on his Facebook page.
“This is an undeniable act of voter suppression and a huge civil rights violation. It’s time to restore lasting credibility to our city’s democracy. Once and for ALL. Enough is enough!” he added.
Gomes narrowly lost to incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim in the Democratic primary, according to a preliminary count posted on the Secretary of the State’s website.
Ganim won the absentee vote tally 1,545 to 779, while Gomes led on voting machines by only 251 votes. The Bridgeport Police Department has confirmed that they are conducting an investigation into the actions seen in a video related to this election.
“The Bridgeport Police Department are actively investigating information regarding possible misconduct based upon a video that has surfaced on social media,” the department told CT Mirror.
The police department is investigating how the video was obtained and released to the public.
“The Bridgeport Police Department immediately initiated an investigation to determine if any criminal wrongdoing has occurred. In addition, an internal investigation is being conducted to determine if any possible breach to our security video management system has occurred,” it added.
Bridgeport Police Chief Roderick Porter stated that the department takes any security violations seriously and will pursue possible criminal prosecution and/or administrative discipline as necessary.
“Geter-Pataky, who the Gomes campaign alleges is the woman in the video, is one of three individuals the SEEC recommended for criminal charges following an investigation into complaints about absentee ballot handling in Ganim’s tight 2019 primary against Sen. Marilyn Moore,” according to CT Mirror.
The news outlet continued, “As a result, the Gomes campaign is alleging that the video is evidence of a string of absentee ballot fraud in the city.”
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Bridgeport has over the years had various examples of voter fraud or absentee ballot abuse, most recently in 2019’s Democratic mayoral primary, which Ganim again lost on the voting machines but won with mail-in votes, receiving 270 more than opponent state Sen. Marilyn Moore. Moore and her allies tried unsuccessfully to overturn those results in court.
Following a five-week-long trial, Superior Court Judge Barry Stevens ruled that while the case uncovered some level of fraud as well as major weaknesses in the absentee-ballot system that were exploited in the primary, there was not enough evidence to overturn Ganim’s victory.
“In summary, the plaintiffs were successful in identifying very serious election law violations, but the heat of this evidence is not hot enough to vacate the entire primary in the manner they sought,” Stevens said in a statement from the bench at the trial’s conclusion. Ganim, originally elected in 2015, subsequently handily won 2019’s November general election.
But as reported recently, the SEEC also investigated the 2019 primary and in June forwarded the names of three individuals involved in Ganim’s campaign to the office of Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin for possible criminal prosecution.
The SEEC’s referral to the chief state’s attorney stated there was “evidence of possible criminal violations undertaken.” Griffin’s office has since confirmed that case is pending.
According to Connecticut law, individuals are only permitted to drop off their own absentee ballots and cannot drop off multiple ballots for other individuals unless they are an immediate family member or a designated agent authorized by the voter.
The John Gomes mayoral campaign filed a complaint with the state Elections Enforcement Commission Friday afternoon after being made aware of a video that violated this regulation.
On Saturday, Gomes released a press statement calling for a rally to address absentee ballot abuse in Bridgeport. To further emphasize this issue, Gomes will be hosting a press conference and campaign office on Monday.
One resident commented that they were not “stuck on political affiliations as some are,” but rather felt that the results of the primary election seemed “unjust and unfair.”
They expressed their hope that Gomes would be able to get to the bottom of it.