BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — There are new developments Wednesday in the Bridgeport absentee ballot scandal that has put a cloud of uncertainty over the Mayor’s race. The State Election Enforcement Commission voted to launch a formal investigation into potential fraud.
“It is of paramount importance to this commission that Connecticut’s elections and primaries are conducted freely and fairly,” said SEEC Chair Stephen Penny during Wednesday’s meeting.
SEEC voted unanimously on three motions connected to the Bridgeport Mayoral primary. They will be investigating possible absentee ballot fraud across three locations in the city. 999 Broad Street, 725 Palisade Ave and 75 Stewart Street.
Specifically, they will be looking into the surveillance video obtained by the John Gomes campaign that allegedly shows city employee and Mayor Ganim supporter Wanda Geter-Pataky stuffing the absentee ballot box outside the Margaret Morton Government Center.
In addition, SEEC will investigate allegations of ballot fraud at the Fireside Apartments. They are a mostly elderly and disabled living complex managed by Park City Properties. Their Board of Commissioners is appointed by the Bridgeport Mayor.
“We have called directly to the Park City housing office and we filed a complaint,” said John Gomes.
The John Gomes campaign claims Mayor Ganim conspired with property managers and used his authority as Mayor to block building access to Gomes.
“In some instances, those who were elected and on the slate with the other team, worked out with the managers of those facilities and purposely did not allow us to have access whatsoever,” said Gomes.
Ganim denied the claims. He told FOX61 that older voters simply like him.
“We had a huge turnout with seniors. Many of them did and do mail in. I’ve always had not only a warm place in my heart for not only our seniors but our youth but they’ve been a strong base of support,” said Ganim.
In 2019, then-candidate for Mayor Marilyn Moore claimed Ganim used a similar strategy against her.
“If you are the mayor of the city. The chief executive officer and its public housing. You can go in and block anyone else from going in there. The other part that I’ve heard directly from some seniors is tying it to the renters rebate to make people feel that one has to do with the other,” explained Moore.
The 2019 SEEC investigation was delayed by COVID-19 and is still pending. It was referred in June to the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges.
In addition to these investigations, SEEC voted unanimously Wednesday to subpoena all absentee ballots, ballot applications, distribution lists, prospective distribution lists and both inner and outer ballot envelopes.
Meanwhile, Mayor Ganim took to the radio Tuesday morning and threw a smoke screen on the authenticity of the surveillance video itself.
“It’s still under investigation by the police department, how they stole the video if that’s what happened. Or whether it’s a doctored video or a combination of both,” said Ganim on “Chaz & AJ in the Morning “, WPLR, 99.1.
Ganim also said this.
“There’s no question about the results,” said Ganim.
Except — there is. For the second primary in a row, Ganim lost the in-person tally by nearly 500 votes until the late-night addition of absentee ballots put him in the lead by 251.
“The commission is in receipt of several complaints regarding these events and today we have determined that they fall within our jurisdiction. They have been docketed. They will be thoroughly investigated. We will work and have been 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 SEEC Chair Penny.
The facts will need to be brought to light quickly, with the general election still set for Nov. 7th. Gomes says he will be on the ballot as an Independent. The Gomes campaign also filed a lawsuit asking a judge to overturn the results of the primary and hold a new vote.
Separately, the Bridgeport Police are investigating. FOX61 also reached out to the FBI who told us they are aware of the situation in Bridgeport but could not confirm or deny an investigation.
Have a story idea or something on your mind you want to share? We want to hear from you! Email us at email@example.com
HERE ARE MORE WAYS TO GET FOX61 NEWS
Download the FOX61 News APP
iTunes: Click here to download
Google Play: Click here to download
Stream Live on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching FOX61.
Steam Live on FIRE TV: Search ‘FOX61’ and click ‘Get’ to download.