by Debra Heine
A Superior Court judge in Connecticut has ordered a new Democrat mayoral primary in Bridgeport after surveillance videos showed a Democrat official apparently stuffing absentee ballots into an outdoor ballot box ahead of the original primary.
Incumbent Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim (pictured above, right) won the election by 251 votes out of 8,173 cast, and absentee ballots reportedly played a deciding role in his margin of victory.
Superior Court Judge William Clark ruled that challenger John Gomes’ claims of absentee ballot fraud warranted throwing out the results of the Sept. 12 primary, the Connecticut Mirror reported.
“The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all of the parties,” Clark wrote in his decision.
The video clips show Town Committee vice chairwoman Wanda Geter-Pataky placing what appear to be multiple absentee ballots into one of the four absentee ballot drop boxes in the city.
“These instances do not appear to the court to be random,” Clark wrote in his opinion.
“The issue in this case is not the applications or even the push to deliver absentee votes. The issue is whether that advocacy crossed a line of the established laws. Specifically, whether individuals who were not the voter and were not authorized under statute handled ballots,” Clark said. “Based on the video and the numbers of absentee votes submitted through the drop box method in Districts 136 and 139 in particular, this court finds that such violations did occur.”
This is the OUTRAGEOUS video of the Democrat Clerk stuffing illegal ballots into the City drop box and visiting it multiple times in one day
— George (@BehizyTweets) November 1, 2023
During the five-day hearing, Geter-Pataky asserted her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions 71 times, the Conn. Mirror reported.
Another Democrat, City Council challenger Eneida Martinez also asserted her Fifth Amendment right when asked in court about videos that appeared to show her dropping multiple ballots into a drop box.
“The number of ballots at issue, when considering the corroborating evidence of the video, documentary evidence and calculations which show a large number of votes in drop boxes and a large percentage of absentee votes in districts connected to Ms. Geter-Pataky and Ms. Martinez, along with the negative inference to be drawn against their preferred candidate, Mr. Ganim, brings the reliability of the primary into serious doubt,” Clark wrote.
The Connecticut SEEC (State Election Enforcement Commission) has launched an investigation into the matter and it appears likely that will be criminal charges leveled against the election cheats.
Geter-Pataky and Martinez were followed to the witness stand by Ganim, who testified that he has never talked with Geter-Pataky about distributing absentee ballots for his campaign. Ganim repeatedly referred to her as a “volunteer” and testified his paid campaign staff is trained to never touch someone else’s ballot.
Gomes’ attorney William Bloss argued that as many as 1,253 were submitted through drop boxes, but surveillance videos show only about 420 people placing ballots in them.
“Nearly everyone who looked at the videos was shocked as Judge Clark,” Bloss said. “An election won by breaking the rules isn’t a fair election.”
The videos resemble footage featured in Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary 2000 Mules revealing largescale ballot stuffing during the 2020 presidential election in Georgia— although nothing was ever done about that fraud, and Democrats continue to deny it ever happened.
This is what stuffing the ballot box looks like pic.twitter.com/okpcKa9O4c
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) April 11, 2022
Gomes (pictured above, left), a former Ganim staffer, called the court’s decision “a victory for the people of Bridgeport.”
“Our campaign always believed that the integrity of our democratic process must be upheld and Superior Court Judge William Clark agreed,” Gomes said in a prepared statement.
The judge’s decision on Wednesday complicates the ongoing election in Bridgeport, the Connecticut Mirror reported. Judge Clark gave the two sides and city election officials until November 17 to decide when to hold a new primary.
Attorneys representing the city said they may file an emergency appeal to the state Supreme Court, raising the possibility that the state’s highest court will be hearing legal arguments as voters go to the polls Tuesday.
Clark’s ruling does not impact actual voting on Tuesday, as the judge has no authority to halt an election.
Gomes is now challenging Mayor Ganim as a third-party candidate.
Ganim focused on the upcoming election in a statement following the ruling.
“Certainly, today’s decision by the court is a substantial one in the court case, and I’ll wait to be apprised by the lawyers as to whether or not they want to take an appeal,” Ganim said.
“But what hasn’t changed, and what’s really important, is this November 7th, Tuesday, in the city of Bridgeport is Election Day. It’s a general election for mayor and all the municipal offices,” Ganim added. “I’m the endorsed Democratic candidate on the top line, and I’m asking everyone to come out and vote in this election. Let’s send a powerful message that we want to keep the progress going in Bridgeport.”
The result of next week’s general election will determine what happens next.
If Gomes wins, his attorney William Bloss said, he would withdraw the complaint, and Gomes would be mayor. If Ganim wins Tuesday’s election, another Democratic primary will take place, according to Clark’s order.
If Ganim wins the new primary, he would be reelected mayor, and another general election wouldn’t be necessary, because the relief Gomes was seeking was a new primary election. If Gomes wins the new primary, however, a new city-wide election would have to be held to determine the winner of the mayoral contest, Bloss said.
In 2003, Ganim was convicted of 16 federal counts of corruption during his first stint as mayor: one count each of racketeering, extortion, racketeering conspiracy, and bribery; two counts of bribery conspiracy; eight counts of mail fraud, and two counts of filing a false tax return.
He was elected mayor again in 2015 after his release from prison.
– – –