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Connecticut Elections Chief Reports ‘Suspicious Activity’ In Do-Over Race After Judge Overturned Primary

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A Connecticut mayoral race marred by allegations of fraud is once again under scrutiny after the secretary of state asked the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) to look into “suspicious activity” and other “potential violations” in the town’s latest mayoral election.

Bridgeport Democrat Mayor Joe Ganim won a do-over primary in January and then the general election in February. A judge overturned the original primary results after evidence appeared to show Ganim’s affiliates “stuffing ballot boxes.”

During the September primary, Ganim was losing to John Gomes by hundreds of votes but ended up 251 votes ahead after absentee ballots came flooding in. Video footage later emerged that appeared to show two Democrats affiliated with Ganim shoving ballots into drop boxes, a violation of state law that stipulates a “voter must personally mail or personally return the ballot for it to be counted” with limited exceptions for household relatives.

Superior Court Judge William Clark ruled “the volume of ballots so mishandled is such that it calls the result of the primary election into serious doubt.”

The general election was still held on Nov. 7 because Clark said he lacked the authority to change it but a second primary was ordered to be held in January along with a new general election in February. Ganim won all three subsequent races.

But even the do-over appears to have possibly been compromised.

Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas wrote in a letter to the State Elections Enforcement Commission that election monitors who were overseeing the general election found multiple instances of potential election violations.

“Eight voters out of 63 … indicated during spot check calls that they received absentee ballots despite not requesting them,” the letter states.

Another voter “indicated during a spot check call that someone came to his house to help him, had him sign some paperwork, and then took his ballot away,” the letter continued, adding that a City of Bridgeport employee alleged “a campaign was offering cash in return for completed absentee ballots” and that there were “four incidents of suspicious activity at drop boxes suggestive of absentee ballot irregularities, three apparently involving one person.”

[READ NEXT: Connecticut Governor Wants To Give Noncitizens IDs That Look Exactly Like Those Used To Vote]

Of the four “suspicious” incidents, three allegedly involved an unidentified man who was “wearing a hoodie to conceal his identity” but was seen on camera “dropping multiple ballots into drop boxes at two different locations” days before the February race, the Hartford Courant reported.

“As you are aware, this office has very limited jurisdiction to review the activity detailed in the attached and no investigatory powers,” Thomas wrote. “Therefore, I am bringing these matters to your attention in the event that they are within the jurisdiction of the State Elections Enforcement Commission.”

In a statement, Thomas said “referrals are not proof of wrongdoing, but an important step to ensure that our elections are secure.”

“Our office is committed to doing what we can to ensure that not just Bridgeport’s citizens trust the elections process, but all of Connecticut does. Two bills have been introduced in the General Assembly, which include our proposals to close loopholes observed by our election monitors.”

The Connecticut House Government Administration and Elections Committee introduced HB 5498, which would “requir[e] the surveillance of absentee ballot drop boxes and retention of the footage … limit[] who may apply for replacement absentee ballots; and reduc[e] the window of availability of absentee ballot applications.”


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