City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez, the queen of absentee ballots, agreed last month to pay a $500 fine for assisting a voter completing an absentee ballot during a primary for Martinez’ council seat in 2009. Ironically, as Martinez was working through her issues with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, she was in the middle of a flurry of absentee ballot activity during the latest primary challenge against her in September.
This is not the first time Martinez has been sanctioned by the SEEC. She was found “liable to pay $664 to the Citizens’ Election Fund for the excess expenditures” her campaign committee made for her failed run for the State House in 2008. Maybe next time elections officials fine her they’ll make it four figures.
Martinez, according to a consent order she signed, assisted the voter at Harborview Towers, a high-rise senior housing complex on the city’s East Side that Martinez targets for absentee ballot votes. The complaint was brought by Rosemary Wong, a veteran city political operative. A section from the SEEC findings.
Upon investigation, the Commission finds that Respondent assisted an individual (hereinafter “Resident Doe”) who resides at Harborview Towers with an Application for Absentee Ballot (Form ED-9) for the Primary. Furthermore, the Commission finds that the data field and signature line pertaining to the assister’s name, residence address and telephone number on the aforementioned absentee ballot application were not completed.
16. The Commission finds that Respondent failed to sign and to print her name, residence address and telephone number on the absentee ballot application that she assisted Resident Doe with described in paragraph 16 above, as required by General Statutes § 9-140 (a).
17. Furthermore, the Commission finds that Respondent violated General Statutes § 9-140 (a) by failing to sign as an assister and complete the data field information including her residence address and telephone number on an absentee ballot application for the Primary as described in paragraph 16 and 17 above.
18. Complainant alleged, as detailed in paragraph 2 above, that Respondent, a candidate for the Primary, completed absentee ballots for Harborview Towers residents.
19. Upon investigation, the Commission finds that Respondent was at the apartment of Resident Doe at Harbor View Towers, when Resident Doe reviewed and marked her absentee ballot for the Primary.
20. The Commission further finds that Resident Doe was assisted by Respondent in completing the aforementioned absentee ballot, in that Respondent explained the use of the inner and outer envelopes of the absentee ballot to Resident Doe, and instructed Resident Doe regarding marking the ballot and sealing the absentee ballot into the inner envelope. Additionally, the Commission finds that Respondent instructed Resident Doe regarding sealing the inner envelope with ballot into the outer envelope of the absentee ballot set and mailing it to the Bridgeport City Hall.
21. Upon investigation, the Commission finds that Resident Doe marked her absentee ballot, and used her absentee ballot set, at her dining table in her apartment at Harborview Towers, while the Respondent remained on a couch within approximately three feet from the aforementioned table while Resident Doe executed her absentee ballot for the Primary.
22. Connecticut General Statutes § 9-140b, provides in pertinent part:
( e) No (1) candidate or (2) agent of a candidate, political party or committee, as defined in section 9-601, shall knowingly be present when an absentee ballot applicant executes an absentee ballot, except (A) when the candidate or agent is (i) a member of the immediate family of the applicant or (ii) authorized by law to be present or (B) when the absentee ballot is executed in the office of the municipal clerk and the municipal clerk or an employee of the municipal clerk is a candidate or agent.
23. It is concluded that Respondent, as a candidate at the Primary, violated General Statutes § 9-140b (e) by being present while Resident Doe executed her absentee ballot for the Primary in which Respondent was a candidate as described in paragraphs 21 through 22 above.
Read entire ruling and consent order here: seec.ct.gov/e2casebase/data/fd/FD_2009_101.1.pdf