Commentary: Maybe The Bigger Problem Is ‘Absent Voters’ Not Absentee Voters

Political observer John Marshall Lee writes in this commentary “Citizens, eligible and registered to vote, staying away from the polls can be termed “absent voters”. They are the major reason we find no satisfaction at this time.”

From Lee:

Here we sit reading the CT Post or social media on Veteran’s Day holiday November 10 and we await notice of the process including a second Primary relying on a Court Order. But this primary follows November 7 Election Day and is restricted to the two candidates who faced off in a primary tainted with likely, though not as yet, charged illegal voting activities. Therefore, one consequence is this unusual primary. Will there then be another special election between incumbent Ganim and challenger Gomes beyond the second primary? Buckle up and follow the logic of justice relating to fairness and rights in elections.

When I visited the Voting office on October 11, 2023, I had a good conversation with both Registrars and they provided registration information, current as of October 5, 2023. My notes show 41,847 Democrats, 4,568 Republicans, 22,537 Unaffiliated, and 485 Other party members. These numbers total 69, 437, which was the total reported by the Registrars.

This week I asked for information from the Town Clerk’s office. They sent a copy of their report to the State of CT, Secretary of State. The report noted that 42 folks advantaged themselves of Election Day Registration. 1,656 absentee ballots were accepted while 75 absentee ballots were rejected. Certainly, other changes likely occurred between the October results from the Registrars and the Election Day Grand Total from the Official Check List Report totaling 69687  of whom 13923 voted (19.98%). Absentee ballots represent almost 12% of votes cast November 7, 2023.

Distress in Bridgeport over election results can find any number of scapegoats but it becomes clear from the above facts and numbers that ‘absentee ballots’ are only a minor part of the Bridgeport narrative. Citizens, eligible and registered to vote, staying away from the polls can be termed “absent voters”. They are the major reason we find no satisfaction at this time. “Absent voters” are neglecting a citizen responsibility like military “draft dodgers”, parking meter scofflaws, folks who game ‘jury duty’, or others who cheat on property or income taxes, without observing or settling their fair share of duty to their neighbors. At this time when people protest exclusion from a table where public information is shared and decisions are made, the major neglect of voting does serious damage to the health of the “body politic”.  Action changes things. Time will tell.



  1. Perhaps, John, but only if they are “informed” voters, right? You don’t want 80% of uninformed voters voting. 😂

    “But this primary follows November 7 Election Day and is restricted to the two candidates who faced off in a primary tainted with likely, though not as yet, charged illegal voting activities.”

    Do you not think the same corruptedness, that’s above the voters, didn’t “restrict” the original primary to G2 and Gomes? Moore a sitting CT Senator, backed by Holier-than-thou, 20,000 shades of ballots couldn’t petition to get on the ballot. PLEASE.

    Jeff’s man, who is now being hailed as a spoiler, was a long shot in general, but a much better shot if he was in that “restricted” primary. JS

    John, we have to define “distress” in Bridgeport over election results. Just from a Port perspective about Port’s election results, 80.02% didn’t give a shit, I mean distressed about the election results. 🤣

    However, I don’t think it fair to place blame on the “Abent voter” for Port’s elections or its results.

    There are two basic types of voters Those voters who have a stake or connection to the Politics. Let’s call them Port’s 19.98% and the emotional voters, the “absent voters” 80.02%.

    It’s admirable to want to get that 80.02% “connected” to politics, though generally only to be used like quickly on election day to elect their man with broken promises, “I’ll call you tomorrow” Only to hear from them next election cycle 🤣

    For Christ’s Sake look at the election candidates that those ‘Absent Votes”, the 19.98% tend to blame, well the losing half see in this new primary.

    You have G2 and Gomes in the election saga. We have been down corrupted G2 political history. Gome the agent of change, come on people.

    Fuhgeddaboudit, just preaching to the choir. 🙂 I mean the 19.98% 🙂

  2. RT
    Avoiding me, in person? Why? Five years ago, were you part of the 19.98 or 80.02? Why enter the vineyard at this time?

    It is all about governance of 100% of the citizenry. It is about rights to good governance, with “best practices” of governance observed, and informing all people in an OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT, and HONEST manner.

    Meanwhile you choose to make your mark in public by treating politics and politicians as a game with players in the main. Is that respectful? You know that language can inform and educate, but choose to write without editing, including “Abent voter”(sic), and some ‘in your face’ colloquialisms that can be offensive to folks of faith offering video clips as humor or wisdom. Are you merely impatient for the “rule of law” or justice to be discovered and presented? Or is there more to your approach? Time will tell.

  3. Perhaps I am avoiding you in person, unfortunately, I am not always a fresh of breath air to speak to in person, and it can be quite offensive. 🤣 But ‘in your face” colloquialisms that you find offensive though it is usually based on truth.

    Is it respectful to question my voice be it in person or not, as invalid because I view to treat politics and politicians as a game with players?

    Surely language can inform and educate but do we not have the right to question and form our own opinion? Or question their teaching? Though belittling someone’s grammar is not a respectable behavior from the educated.

    Impatient with the “rule of law” no can I question it? As for my approach, I tend to take the shit and its smell with a sense of humor cloaked in wisdom. 🙂

    P.S. Five years ago I was part of the 19.82%. Eight years ago, I was part of the silent 80.02%, the “abSent voter” I was fine with keeping my mouth shut. I really didn’t give a shit, just trying to understand it. But let’s say Guiding Stars changed that in 2012 and 2015. However, it all seems to be starting to get asinine. Perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures. IDK.

  4. John: I have thought and written about Bridgeport’s electoral dilemma quite a bit over the past quite a few years. Most mayoral elections over the past 30 years have been decided by a small fraction of the electorate — that is to say; we have had several elections, since JG appeared on the scene, where the turnout was under 30% and the “winners” of the election were elected by less than 20% of the registered electorate. Note that I specify “registered,” since there are perhaps another 30,000 of our residents that would be eligible to vote of registered… IF —- if, Bridgeport were turning out its potential numbers, it would be a national focal point (for other than corruption scrutiny) at election time, since those numbers could contribute to presidential candidates being elected per “mandate” status…

    But, being a very pragmatic Yankee country, the best-qualified, most honorable would-be candidates for public office, for all levels of office/government, generally shy away from the insanity and ingratitude associated with seeking elected office through our “American style” democracy, where the amount of money required to create a viable campaign is absurd and usually unobtainable for those seeking to obtain such through and from honorable “brokers.” Our “American style” democracy generally requires an acceptance of a level of “corruption” even before a given candidate officially registers to become a candidate… And, being a “pragmatic” Yankee country, most honorable, qualified, potential candidates would rather mine big(ger) money in the private sector than hemorrhage money, per opportunity costs, serving as an elected official.

    So: With the generally poor quality of (viable) candidate that has been offered for the mayoralty during the past several decades, it is no wonder that most registered voters aren’t turning out in any numbers for mayoral elections in Bridgeport… And the quality of candidate elected is reflected in the socioeconomic condition of our city…

    And, let’s be mindful that it takes higher levels of corruption — at higher levels of government, at higher levels of political party operation, and at high levels of the private (donor/business) sector — in order for the
    undesirable/less-than-suitable candidates to keep showing up in City Hall after election-time. Remember that the governors and Connecticut federal delegation members, as well as others at high levels of state and federal office, as well as high positions in the political parties, though cognizant of Bridgeport’s corruption, are generally very willing to support and pledge allegiance to the corrupt persons and influences in Bridgeport City Hall per the influence of potential votes/donor$ from such, as well as in deference to Party politics… (But then, I have contended that it is even more corrupt at higher levels than the reasons just presented, inasmuch as keeping Bridgeport “in its place” and serving the “region’ in that context is what the $ of “region” wants and what the higher office need to do to keep the support of that $ and its potential to propel them to higher office (and probably more lucrative $opportunity$).

    So; why would most Bridgeporter’s (registered/potentially registered to vote) — who have been shown nothing to give them any reason to use the time and energy to vote — make any effort to make a make a choice from the selection of viable candidates that they have been shown over the past several decades?

    Of course; not using our potential political power will ensure that we Bridgeport is kept at the bottom of the dung heap; but being at the bottom of the dung heap provides a powerful disincentive to the electorate to vote and put itself in a position to leverage its power. And, of course, that is exactly how the corrupt power structure wants to keep things…

    Perhaps there are a Ceasar Chavez and Saul Alinsky out there that would want to adopt Bridgeport to see if our paradoxical electoral position might be ameliorated/righted?!…


  5. Of course, there are Caesar Chaves and Saul Alinsky out there. Y’all bore CC and SA for the most part, but y’all love the change in politics. 🙂

    Or at the very least the illusion of change, that spiels out their mouth. If you care to understand, Jonh, #LPR

    Whatever doesn’t work or kill ya can make you stronger.

    Good luck Port in your asinine seconded primary. SMH

  6. Mr. Marshall I am responding to your commentary when you stated, that a Civil Rights leader, is using her Bully Pulpit to accuse a competing Mayoral candidate of certain inappropriate actions. First of all you wouldn’t mention her name, and went on to give a depiction of the Civil Rights leader in which I can safely say you were speaking about Rev. Mary McBride Lee. Mr. Marshall you may not be aware, so let me enlighten you. Rev. Lee has been in the social justice battle for over 60 years. She has been fighting for the Civil Rights, Human Rights, and justice for all people. She doesn’t care about the race, nationality, or ethnicity of the person, if she feels there is an injustice, or someone is acting in a manner that’s inappropriate, she will use her voice as a weapon to confront it. If she feels in her heart that there is an injustice that needs to be address , she is one of the first in line. If she feels someone is incompetent, especially if that one is seeking an office that can effect thousands of citizens, she will call that person out. That’s who she is. She doesn’t move to the tune of the Mayor or anyone, If she see what she believes is a wrong or injustice she is gonna speak out against it, and let the chips lie were they may. You also mentioned her audience. Apparently you are not familiar with Rev. Lee, because her audience is larger than you or anyone can fathom. One of the schools in her district as a Council Woman, was one of a few schools Mayor Ganim won at the polls. I believe the people not only in her district, but throughout the city, hears her Clarion call very well and respond to her. It seems to me from reading your commentary, that because of her outspokenness, and undying support for Mayor Ganim, it has helped him in his Primary and General election victories, and you seem to be harboring some feelings. It is also apparent that you are supporting John Gomes and that’s alright. So you and Rev Lee are on opposing sides. So it seems to me that for whatever reason, you come after this Civil Rights leader, a woman with a moral compass, who calls it like she sees it, and what she is doing especially in this climate, is an agitation to your spirit, and other supporters of candidate John Gomes. So this Rev. Lee, with this Southern accent, is one of the most influential leaders in this city. And she has the support of many Christians, Muslims, and Civic organization, along with Imam Lyle Hassan Jones and the Al-Aziz Islamic Community . She is truly a Gem, just get to know her. Peace

    1. Respectfully, I disagree with some of your facts, reporting, and conclusions. We have met previously and I have supported other activities you pursue. Please phone me and if I am not in leave a message on my office # 203-259-9642. We need to talk in person for time to tell.

  7. Comes down to the 80/20 rule. 20% of registered voters making the decisions for 100 % of the city when it comes down to it. Walk up voters are key. It may not be this simple, Larger turnout may not change the results. Still seems like a close race. It just seems that the AB voters, many of them being seniors are making leadership choices for their children and grand children.

    1. JC,
      Larger % of eligible and registered actually casting votes may not really matter in the sense that the numbers may indicate the same person elected.
      But at least a large number coming out to vote signals attention to what is being said, and how it is said, and to trust in the system. When votes for a Mayor total 20% but $1 million is invested in the campaign, what does it say? What is the moral of this story? Attendance at Board and Commission meetings? Qualified candidates, diverse politically, willing to serve responsibly? Where does Bridgeport train such folks when Town Committees do not generally speak about what they stand for in terms of values and principles or how they serve to perpetuate democracy rather than “party power”? Time will tell.


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