Dramatic video footage of a political operative stuffing into a designated drop box what appears to be absentee ballots has cast a gigantic shadow of illegitimacy over last week’s mayoral primary in which Mayor Joe Ganim eclipsed challenger John Gomes by 251 votes.
“Absentee ballots continue to cast doubt on the integrity of Bridgeport elections,” says Gomes in a statement. “Critical evidence has emerged in the days following the Primary including video showing vote fraud and several complaints have been filed with the State Election Enforcement Commission (SEEC).”
Gomes announced during a Monday afternoon news conference his campaign’s lawyer Bill Bloss, a seasoned election law attorney, will file a complaint on Tuesday seeking a new primary.
Bloss told the Connecticut Post “At a minimum, this deserves a very careful review and a very careful comparison of what was in the (absentee ballot drop) box on Sept. 5 and who put whatever was in the box there.”
That drop box outside the Margaret Morton Government Center would be a key piece of evidence for the Gomes campaign trying to persuade a judge to order a new primary.
If it’s determined the drop box was loaded with hundreds of ballots during the time in question, it would certainly add credence to Gomes’s argument. What if doesn’t measure nearly that high? The standard in these elections, and primarily for this primary is there enough evidence to show 251 ways to place the outcome of the vote in question.
State law limits who may place their hands on an absentee, usually reserved for an immediate family member or caretaker.
Judge Barry Stevens presided over 2019’s primary challenge in which Mayor Joe Ganim defeated State Senator Marilyn Moore by 270 votes. Moore led the walk-in vote, absentees put Ganim over the top. Stevens ruled there was not enough evidence to overturn.
Last year he did order a new primary in the Marcus Brown-Jack Hennessy state house vote, but at issue there was two votes. He ordered a new primary and Brown won.
From a strategic viewpoint Gomes certainly has the wind at his back with the vote outcome in question. If he goes to court and loses does it take some of the wind out of the sails. Is it better to focus all attention on the general election where he as a ballot spot on the Bridgeport Independent Party line.
But if he’s successful in court it further validates his argument questioning the integrity of the vote.
Judge Stevens, assuming he presides over a trial, is a deliberative jurist. A court challenge will likely take weeks to sort out.