State Rep. Charlie Stallworth, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Greater Bridgeport, writes in this commentary that the lawsuit challenging the results of the September 10 Democratic primary is “nothing more than a sheer attempt to employ intimidation tactics to sway the results of the election in their candidate’s favor. At best, their motive is surreptitious and malicious, and is designed to cast doubt on the democratic process, in an unscrupulous and manipulative attempt to severely undermine the credibility of our system of laws around voting, in what we believe to be a last-minute coercive maneuver to force our judicial system to give their preferred candidate a competitive edge.”
The lawsuit, currently playing out in the courtroom of Judge Barry Stevens, was assisted by Bridgeport Generation Now Votes whose leadership supports State Senator Marilyn Moore for mayor. Stallworth, who was briefly in the mayoral field this cycle, supported Joe Ganim for mayor four years ago but did not publicly endorse a candidate during the primary.
“Voting is the foundation stone for political action.”–Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am a Senior Pastor of a local congregation, President of a local ministerial group, State Representative and citizen who is concerned that much of the dialogue and to some degree demagoguery about the recent mayoral election has now become an issue of voting rights, but more particularly, the right to vote vis-à-vis absentee ballots. The right to vote is a fundamental constitutional privilege codified in both state and federal law. My father, Mr. Bill Mack Stallworth, and so many from our southern community in Alabama and across the nation fought sacrificially to ensure the right to vote for everyone
The United States Congress has the authority and fiduciary responsibility as prescribed in the 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, and 24th amendments to the United States Constitution coupled with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the American Disabilities Act, to vigorously protect and defend this most essential right for all Americans–and state the fundamental bedrock of our democracy.
I believe that this most basic freedom is being hijacked and threatened by a small contingency of disgruntled voters, who arguably, have failed to allege any specific, concrete harm to themselves and lack standing to bring a sufficient claim of voter disenfranchisement on behalf of the majority of the electorate of the City of Bridgeport. On September 10th, the citizens of Bridgeport exercised their right to vote both at the ballot box and through alternative legal mechanisms (via absentee ballots) and made a clear and conscious choice to vote for the endorsed Democratic candidate. Whether one likes the results or not, the reality is that we cannot engage in Trump-like gaslighting when the results don’t go our way.
Therefore, this legal challenge is nothing more than a sheer attempt to employ intimidation tactics to sway the results of the election in their candidate’s favor. At best, their motive is surreptitious and malicious, and is designed to cast doubt on the democratic process, in an unscrupulous and manipulative attempt to severely undermine the credibility of our system of laws around voting, in what we believe to be a last-minute coercive maneuver to force our judicial system to give their preferred candidate a competitive edge. We must end this behavior in Bridgeport–it’s time to move Bridgeport forward!
As in any election, there is a winner and a loser. Defeat must not be met with disparagement or bitterness, but rather with a spirit of reconciliation and hope that bring people together rather than tear them apart.
I stand in strong opposition to the proposed measures that would call for the over-policing and the imposition of excessive mandates and restrictions on voting for our most vulnerable citizens, including but not limited to communities of color, members of our armed forces, college students, persons with disabilities, religious observants, and other marginalized groups. To date, with the pending litigation looming in the background, it has already started to have a chilling effect on the participation of our electorate, which has the potential to negatively impact the election outcomes in our communities for years to come. All of us must closely monitor this instant case and not allow a legal precedent that undermines our democratic values and disenfranchise our most vulnerable citizens.
I ask that you join us in the fight to protect and preserve the voting rights of the citizens of Bridgeport and to secure the legacy of those who gave up their lives so that we might enjoy such privilege.
In the Battle to Win,
Reverend Dr. C. L. Stallworth