Bridgeport Primary Under Review

On Sept. 12, City of Bridgeport constituents exercised their constitutional right to vote in the mayoral primary election. The candidates included two democratic candidates, incumbent Joseph P. Gamin and Bridgeport’s former Chief Administrative Officer, John Gomes.

Election officials, on Sept. 14, reported the election results, naming Gamin as victor. Gamin received a total of 4,412 votes, of which 1,545 wereabsentee ballots. Gomes secured a total of 3,961 votes, including 851 absentee ballots.

In an attempt to overturn the primary, Gomes filed a lawsuit against Charles D. Clemons, JR Town Clerk, Patrica Howard, Democratic Registrar of Voters, Stephanie Thomas, Secretary of the State and Ganim with the Superior Court, alleging irregularities in absentee ballots. A trial began on Oct. 12.

“Election fraud has existed in American politics ever since the beginning of elections, sometimes the results are due to the fraud while

other times the fraud has only minimal impact,” said Professor of Political Science, Dr. Gary Rose.

“With respect to Bridgeport politics, accusations of fraud are now routine and with good reason,” said Rose.

According to the Associated Press, the City of Bridgeport, “has been under state and federal scrutiny for alleged irregularities involving absentee ballots. New primaries have been called over the years in state legislative and local city council races because of absentee ballot problems.”

Surveillance footage obtained by the City of Bridgeport and released by Gomes’ campaign, showed alleged instances of tampering. A non-elected official was seen outside of Margaret E. Morton Government Center at 6:30 a.m allegedly depositing multiple absentee ballots. Another video also allegedly shows another person exiting the same building depositing multiple ballots.

“Corrupt elections seem to be part of Bridgeport’s political culture; the only city in Connecticut where corruption not only occurs with regularity, but is actually expected,” said Rose.

Absentee voting is a method that allows eligible voters who cannot physically cast their vote to mail in or drop off their ballot in designated drop off locations.

According to Connecticut Law, the voter must be registered and had to have filled out an absentee ballot application that was returned and vetted by the Town Clerk. The voter information is then inputted into the Central Voter Registration System. Each voter receives a ballot with a unique serial number, ensuring the voter who requested it can only vote with that ballot. After the ballot is filled out, the voter or a designee of the ballot applicant can mail in the ballot or physically drop it off via the Office of Secretary of State’s approved drop off locations.

After the ballot is received by the Town Clerk, the serial number and barcode are checked to validate the voter who returned the ballot.

According to Bridgeport’s mayoral primary, there were four absentee ballot drop off locations: City Hall, Margaret E. Morton Government Center,Fire House #10 and adjacent to the Fire House corner.

“I want 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,” said Ganim in a press release on Sept. 18.

The trial lasted five days including testimony from multiple witnesses, the alleged persons on the video and Ganim. “Judge William Clark said he hopes to issue a decision in about two weeks,” according to AP news.

President of SHU Democrats, junior Anna Macaulay said, “Regardless of how this proceeds, whether they host another mayoral primary or not, it is very clear that the people of Bridgeport have been let down. These antics are against the American vision of democracy, they are immoral, and they are indicative of the failure of politicians and leaders in Bridgeport.”

“The people deserve better, and the integrity of their vote has been absolutely tarnished,” said Macaulay.

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