Judge Overturns Primary Election, Calling Evidence of Fraud ‘Shocking’

By Zachary Stieber

A primary election in Connecticut has been overturned by a judge, who said the evidence presented was “shocking.”

The Sept. 12 Democrat primary for the race to become Bridgeport’s mayor included thousands of absentee ballots. John Gomes, one of the candidates, presented evidence indicating some of the ballots were cast fraudulently.

State law enables absentee voting but contains multiple rules, including that a person who helps distribute more than five absentee applications must register with the town clerk as a distributor.

Wanda Geter-Pataky is a city worker who supports another mayoral candidate, the party-endorsed Mayor Joe Ganim. She and Eneida Martinez, another supporter of Mr. Ganim, did not register as absentee ballot distributors or sign any applications, which is required if they assisted voters, nor were they designated by absentee voters to drop off absentee ballots.

Both women were captured on video dropping off multiple absentee ballots, on multiple occasions, into drop boxes. They each declined to testify during the fraud trial, asserting their Fifth Amendment rights.

Connecticut Superior Court Judge William Clark said on Nov. 1 that the conduct on the video “represents multiple violations” of state law governing absentee voting.

Given the violations, the judge said he was “unable to determine the results of the primary.” He ordered a new primary election.

In the primary, Mr. Ganim received 4,212 votes, 251 more than Mr. Gomes. Mr. Ganim’s total included 1,564 absentee votes, compared to 861 for his challenger.

Under Connecticut law, candidates are able to ask for a new election based on “a mistake in the count of votes cast” or having been “aggrieved by a violation” of state law.

The judge did not schedule a new primary but ordered the city and Mr. Gomes to confer and propose a date.

Denies Involvement

Mr. Ganim has served nearly seven terms as Bridgeport’s mayor. He was convicted on corruption charges in the past.

In a statement after the video was made public, Mr. Ganim said he wanted to “state unequivocally that I do not condone, in any way, actions taken by anyone including any campaign, city, or elected official, which undermines the integrity of either the electoral process or city property.”

During the case, he testified that he was not involved in the scheme.

Mr. Ganim also said that he was “shocked” by the video evidence.

“Mr. Ganim was also correct to be ‘shocked’ at what he saw on the video clips in evidence that were shown to him while he was on the witness stand,” Judge Clark wrote in his ruling. “The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties.”

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