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Who Can Return Absentee Ballots? For Mario, Cops And Mailmen Deliver

November 28th, 2017 · 68 Comments · City Politics

Mario flexes abs.

Mario flexes abs.

Police officer Paul Nikola testified on Monday that he was dispatched by Chief AJ Perez to assist Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa with picking up absentee ballots in the Democratic primary for City Council in the North End 133rd District. Testa is a supporter of party-endorsed Michael DeFilippo, a bartender at the chairman’s restaurant. DeFilippo was the vote leader in the primary, but the results are being challenged by opponent Bob Keeley based on absentee ballot voting. Can a police officer pick up and deliver absentee ballots? Yes, according to state law, under certain circumstances.

Keeley says hold on a minute.

Keeley says I’ve been robbed.

From Connecticut General Statutes:

Sec. 9-140b. (Formerly Sec. 9-146). Return of absentee ballots. Possession of ballots and envelopes restricted. (a) An absentee ballot shall be cast at a primary, election or referendum only if: (1) It is mailed by (A) the ballot applicant, (B) a designee of a person who applies for an absentee ballot because of illness or physical disability, or (C) a member of the immediate family of an applicant who is a student, so that it is received by the clerk of the municipality in which the applicant is qualified to vote not later than the close of the polls; (2) it is returned by the applicant in person to the clerk by the day before a regular election, special election or primary or prior to the opening of the polls on the day of a referendum; (3) it is returned by a designee of an ill or physically disabled ballot applicant, in person, to said clerk not later than the close of the polls on the day of the election, primary or referendum; (4) it is returned by a member of the immediate family of the absentee voter, in person, to said clerk not later than the close of the polls on the day of the election, primary or referendum; (5) in the case of a presidential or overseas ballot, it is mailed or otherwise returned pursuant to the provisions of section 9-158g; or (6) it is returned with the proper identification as required by the Help America Vote Act, P.L. 107-252, as amended from time to time, if applicable, inserted in the outer envelope so such identification can be viewed without opening the inner envelope. A person returning an absentee ballot to the municipal clerk pursuant to subdivision (3) or (4) of this subsection shall present identification and, on the outer envelope of the absentee ballot, sign his name in the presence of the municipal clerk, and indicate his address, his relationship to the voter or his position, and the date and time of such return. As used in this section, “immediate family” means a dependent relative who resides in the individual’s household or any spouse, child or parent of the individual.

(b) As used in this section and section 9-150c, “designee” means (1) a person who is caring for the applicant because of the applicant’s illness or physical disability, including but not limited to, a licensed physician or a registered or practical nurse, (2) a member of the applicant’s family, who is designated by an absentee ballot applicant and who consents to such designation, or (3) if no such person consents or is available, then a police officer, registrar of voters, deputy registrar of voters or assistant registrar of voters in the municipality in which the applicant resides.

Testa’s use of city police officers, although unusual to many, is not unconventional to his electioneering way of thinking. Back in the day he had a mailman on his town committee, also handy for absentee ballot collection.

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68 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    They have more than enough help in the registrars office to pick up absentee ballots on a 4 person election. The problem must have been that the ballots had not be filled and were being filed just before the arrival of the police officer. I bet is you called and asked 100 people you would find that no one knew a police officer
    could pick up an absentee ballot and these same people would not know where to call. This kind of crap has been going on for years, maybe they got nailed this time.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      What about the dozen ballots in the mail room, the ones without a postmark? Thise weren’t “About to be filed”. Mario Testa plays politics for sport.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The only reason Mario Testa is concerned about the statutes is the possibility of a criminal prosecution.

  • Bob Fredericks

    Ed Adams off that day?

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    There is no point when this will stop bothering people. God bless Bob Keeley for doing sometthing about it.

    Mea culpa: I mistook George Bohannon for a State’s Attorney.

  • Bob Walsh

    “This is the corrupt empire,” Garrett said. “It’s just a culture that has evolved of a sense of entitlement — that only we (Testa and his allies) deserve to rule.”
    Well said Mike Garret; well said.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Testa’s alleged absentee ballot meddling questioned
    By Brian Lockhart 

    BRIDGEPORT — Democratic Chairman Mario Testa’s alleged personal use of the police force to collect absentee ballots during a recent City Council primary has raised eyebrows among political officials in town and at the State Capitol in Hartford.

    “This is not the usual way this process works,” said Gabe Rosenberg, head of communications for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. Rosenberg on Tuesday said he spoke with several experienced staff members and “no one had really ever heard of it happening this way before.”

    “It doesn’t seem like the right procedure at all,” agreed Linda Grace, Bridgeport’s Republican Registrar of Voters.

    Michael Garrett, who runs Bridgeport’s GOP, went a step farther: “I don’t think it’s legal to do that. I really don’t.”

    The revelations about Testa’s involvement with absentee ballots came out Monday as part of an ongoing court battle over the results of a hotly-contested Democratic primary for two City Council seats in the North End.

    At stake is the election of two candidates friendly to Testa and Mayor Joe Ganim — including Michael DeFilippo, who bartends at Testa’s restaurant — and a pair of running mates who, despite years of local political experience, campaigned as outsiders willing to challenge City Hall and the so-called Democratic machine.
    On Monday Bridgeport Police Officer Paul Nikola testified in Superior Court that he was dispatched by his boss, Police Chief Armando “A.J.” Perez, on Nov. 14 to Testa’s restaurant. A special primary between the Democratic Town Committee’s nominees — incumbent Jeanette Herron and newcomer DeFilippo — and petition candidates ex-state Rep. Bob Keeley and Zoning Commissioner Anne Pappas Phillips was being held that day.
    Nikola testified that Perez told him Testa “needed someone to pick up absentee ballots.”

    “I met him (Testa) at his pizza parlor and he introduced me to Mike (DeFilippo), one of his workers who was putting together a list (of the absentee ballots). I gave him my phone number and he (Testa) said he was going to call me with the list,” Nikola testified.
    Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ordered the Nov. 14 primary be held after Herron and Keeley challenged the close results of the initial September contest. DeFilippo won that first primary, Pappas-Phillips came in fourth, and Herron and Keeley tied for second place. During a recount, one absentee ballot for Herron suddenly appeared. Bellis had enough concerns about where that ballot came from to order a primary do-over.

    DeFillippo and Herron subsequently emerged victorious after the votes were counted in that special Nov. 14 primary. But Keeley and Pappas Phillips filed a revised court complaint claiming the second primary was flawed because of irregularities and mishandling of absentee ballots. Bellis this week is holding hearings on that revised complaint.

    Nikola, a 30 year veteran of the force, on Monday testified that after leaving Testa’s restaurant, he drove around the North End in his police cruiser as he was texted addresses from Testa and DeFilippo to pick up absentee ballots.

    Absentee ballots are a way for the sick, the disabled and people who must be out of town on Election Day to vote. And, according to state law, police officers can handle absentee ballots. But observers said it is not normal for a party chairman and a candidate to be the ones requesting and overseeing the police retrieval of absentee ballots.

    “The voter starts the process saying they can’t return the ballot and decides who returns their ballot for them,” said Rosenberg. That, according to the Secretary of the State’s website, could be a relative, a caregiver or a cop. “Party chairman” or “political candidate” is not mentioned.

    “I don’t think it’s a town (party) chairman’s job to do such a thing,” said Garrett.

    Garrett and Grace said typically in Bridgeport voters who require police assistance with absentee ballots are directed to contact the Town Clerk. And, in fact, Nikola testified that he was surprised when the chief dispatched him to aid Testa because another officer was already on absentee ballot duty Nov. 14 for the Town Clerk.

    Testa’s alleged use of Perez and the police department to gather up absentee ballots also raises questions about political favoritism in Democrat-controlled Bridgeport. Garrett noted that even if he wanted to, he probably could not reach out to Perez — a close friend of the mayor’s — to dispatch officers to collect absentee ballots for Republican candidates.

    “This is the corrupt empire,” Garrett said. “It’s just a culture that has evolved of a sense of entitlement — that only we (Testa and his allies) deserve to rule.”
     

  • Bob Walsh

    WHEN Mario gets nailed to the cross for this blatant attempt to control the vote, he should resign as Chair of the DTC along with all other elected officials of the DTC.
    We need to clean up this mess once and for all. The Vice Chairs, Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer, Sergeant At Arms, all of them. Gone.
    Goodbye. Even if they did not stoop to this level they are guilty by duplicity.

  • Bob Walsh

    And WHAT is a Bridgeport Police officer doing in Fairfield? That is where he met the Town Chair and his lackey Mike DiFilippo.
    Somebody answer that.

  • Bob Walsh

    On a lighter note……………..
    Wait, there is no lighter note.
    Mario Testa has destroyed Democracy in Bridgeport.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      There is a brighter side to all this, Bob. Bridgeport Young Democrats and Bridgeport Generation Now are political forces to be reckoned with. Ms. Lisa Parziale lining up the districts to take back control of the DTC from the puppetmaster of Madison Avenue.

      Lisa, you pull it off and dinner at TruNORTH is on me.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    or (3) if no such person consents or is available, then a police officer, registrar of voters, deputy registrar of voters or assistant registrar of voters in the municipality in which the applicant resides.

    Enough said!

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      The statute says nothing about party chairmen and candidates supervising the collection of absentee ballots. That’s enough said.

    • Bob Walsh

      That is when the voter asks, not when the Town Chairman directs his too. Do the voters have Paul Nikola’s personal cell phone number?
      That giant sucking sound you hear is Joel sucking up to the Chief.
      Hey Joel, why don’t you post his number right hear and tell people that they can call for rides to the grocery store or package store.
      Its a pleasure to serve!

  • Bob Walsh

    And where is Town Clerk Don Clemons?
    Missing from action as is usual or hiding from the courtroom because he doesn’t want to take the Fifth if he is called to testify.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Mario Testa and Michael DeFillipo ought to call  for the packets of miracle spring water. The number is (800) 257 5265 (www.peterpopoff.org).

  • Jimfox

    Seat Keeley and Phillips Now!

  • barry soitera

    This is how Malloy won. Ballots just showing up.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      The Democratic State Committee has turned an institutional blind eye to the party corruption in Bridgeport, for years. It only mattered when the party wanted to get elected to statewide office. Other than that, eh…

  • Bob Walsh

    It’s time to clean house, top to bottom.
    Do it now Joe while you have a chance or you’ll be dragged down with it.
    Call for Mario’s resignation. Call for an immediate election of a new town chair. Make it someone who will vote not serve until a new town chair is elected after the DTC elections in the Spring.
    Do or get swept away with the rubbish.

    • DC Faber

      Joe does not have the political courage or the testicular fortitude to do such a thing. He will go down with the ship.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Joe just lost the battle for political welfare money. His gubernatorial aspirations just dimmed. On the home front Joe is touting the Exact Capital deal to rehab the theaters.

      Other than a political scandal involving absentee ballots and the chairman of the DTC everything’s going well for Joe.

  • Bob Halstead

    Certain people on this blog not giving credit where it’s due. It seems cheap opportunists taking credit for an anticipated overthrow of rhe establishment that still has not happened.
    Give Keeley the credit due as to how he was not wishy washy like some others
    Lenny are you also aware that working on the payroll for anointed candidates has been going on for years? I’ve seen it first hand. Don’t characterize my comments as a “lame excuse”. Truth is not supposed to be lame

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      I’ve given credit to Bob Keeley. He filed the lawsuit that started all this.

      • Bob Halstead

        He started it alright. Also has performed, is doing it and do following through-already an accomplishment and no one of this blog or anywhere else’s is fighting the battle that, if won, is more than anyone else has ever done to strike a blow against theempire

  • Bob Walsh

    Drain the swamp!!!!!

  • Bob Walsh

    UBER your Absentee Ballot!!!

  • John from Black Rock

    I apologize for my lack of knowledge on this point of law, but here’s my question:

    Does Judge Bellis have the legal authority to compel someone to testify by issuing a subpoena on her own or does an attorney from either the plaintiff or the defendant first have to request that she issue the subpoena? I know as a librarian I could probably find this out on my own, but as I’m not at work, I’ve decided to be just a little lazy. Thank you in advance. John Soltis

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      .

      “A court, Grand Jury, legislative body, or Administrative Agency uses a subpoena to compel an individual to appear before it at a specified time to give testimony. An individual who receives a subpoena but fails to appear may be charged with Contempt of court and subjected to civil or criminal penalties. In addition, a person who has been served with a subpoena and has failed to appear may be brought to the proceedings by a law enforcement officer who serves a second subpoena, called an instanter.
      A subpoena must be served on the individual ordered to appear. In some states a law enforcement officer or process server must personally serve it, whereas other states allow service by mail or with a telephone call. It is most often used to compel witnesses to appear at a civil or criminal trial. A trial attorney may receive an assurance from a person who says that she will appear in court on a certain day to testify, but if a subpoena is not issued and served on the witness, she is not legally required to appear.
      It is up to the attorneys in a case to request subpoenas, which are routinely issued by the trial court administrator’s office. The subpoena must give the name of the legal proceedings, the name of the person who is being ordered to appear, and the time and place of the court hearing.

      “Legislative investigating committees also issue subpoenas to compel recalcitrant witnesses to appear. Congressional investigations of political scandal, such as the Watergate scandals of the Nixon administration, the iran-contra scandal of the Reagan administration, and the Whitewater scandal of the Clinton administration, rely on subpoenas to obtain testimony.
      A subpoena that commands a person to bring certain evidence, usually documents or papers, is called a Subpoena Duces Tecum, from the Latin “under penalty to bring with you.” This type of subpoena is often used in a civil lawsuit where one party resists giving the other party documents through the discovery process. If a court is convinced that the document request is legitimate, it will order the production of documents using a subpoena duces tecum.

      “A party may resist a subpoena duces tecum by refusing to comply and requesting a court hearing. One of the most famous refusals of a subpoena was richard m. nixon’s reluctance to turn over the tape recordings of his White House office conversations to the Watergate special prosecutor. Nixon fought the subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court in united states v. nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 94 S. Ct. 3090, 41 L. Ed. 2d 1039 (1974). The Court upheld the subpoena, leading Nixon to resign his office a short time later.”

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      John,
      Does this help?

  • John from Black Rock

    Yes it does. Thanks Kid.

    “It is up to the attorneys in a case to request subpoenas, which are routinely issued by the trial court administrator’s office. The subpoena must give the name of the legal proceedings, the name of the person who is being ordered to appear, and the time and place of the court hearing.”

    Given this, it would seem that neither side wanted DeFilippo amd/or Testa to testify. I find that interesting and perhaps a bit puzzling.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      From the stories published in the Post itappears Judge Bellis has enough information from Max Medina’s report and witness testimony to make a ruling. It will go in Keeley’s favor.

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