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Will AB Flex Materialize?

September 14th, 2015 · 12 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Politics, News and Events

The absentee ballot chaos involving charges, counter charges, complaints filed with state and federal agencies appears to have an impact on the number of returned ballots to the Town Clerk’s Office. As of Monday afternoon about 900 ballots had been received by the office out of about 2,700 processed. Two more days are available for return ballots, but political operatives from the campaign camps say they now project fewer returned ballots by absentee than originally projected. Still, the venom among campaign rivals continues on the verge of Wednesday’s Democratic primary for mayor and other offices.

The majority of absentee ballot action is coming from the camps of Bill Finch and Joe Ganim, both of whom have leveled charges against each other for impropriety. Meanwhile operatives for Mary-Jane Foster are lashing out at both those camps claiming absentee ballot abuses, but particularly Finch whose campaign operation is trying to marginalize Foster’s base of support in Black Rock claiming a vote for Foster is a vote for Ganim.

“Bridgeport has never seen this level of absentee ballot abuse–it is clear that the Finch campaign is realizing voters are looking for an honest choice for change and is panicking,” says Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group that is backing Foster. “I am hopeful that federal authorities will finally step in to prosecute this abuse and protect the integrity of the vote since state regulators continue to enable fraudulent voting in Bridgeport.”

This all started a few weeks ago when Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala ordered supervised balloting at a few dozen locations that received a high volume of absentee ballot requests including health care facilities, senior citizen buildings and even the P.T. Barnum housing project. Supervised balloting is allowed by state law, on designated premises, to provide a check against electors being unduly influenced in the absentee ballot voting process.

Political operatives blanketed areas with absentee ballot applications they dropped off to the Town Clerk’s office for processing by mail. When supervised balloting is ordered, the ballots are set aside to be distributed to those electors who may fill them out at the designated locations prior to primary day.

This is where things get a little sticky. State statute provides that registrars oversee supervised balloting with the processing of ballots handled by town clerks. Lawyers for the city and state last week prevailed upon Town Clerk Alma Maya to mail hundreds of ballots slated for supervision claiming time was of the essence because not all supervised balloting locations had been scheduled. Ayala asserted they had jumped the gun, her timeline for scheduled supervised balloting was proper under state statute.

Meanwhile, all three campaign camps have filed elections complaints with state and federal agencies.

Four years ago more than 800 votes were cast by absentee in the mayoral primary between Finch and Foster. But since then political operatives have ramped up efforts to produce votes by absentee. If one side is doing it, then a competitor fundamentally decides to weigh in hard as well to limit an absentee ballot drubbing.

The Foster campaign has taken a different approach in lieu of a massive absentee ballot operation, scream from the mountaintops in hope to give pause to any potential absentee ballot cheats.


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12 Comments so far ↓

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Don’t expect the state or federal authorities to weigh in until November. Until then they will be watching this with more than a little amusement.

    It is safe to assume there will be legal challenges from all three campaigns.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      I wouldn’t bet the state will be weigh in and if they do, they’ll state they could not find or identify the parties responsible after an extensive investigation. During the Governor’s race last November, the Democrats used the US President to bump up their entire operation in the major cities in Connecticut. “The President is coming and only 2,000 tickets are available.” All headquarters were the locations to sign up for tickets, they registered people, got some to fill AB applications, etc. President cancels the visit and by that time the Democrats had over 20,000 positive IDs with fresh contact information. The Bridgeport operatives have contacts in Washington and you see who is backing Finch. The main individuals operating and managing the AB operation are the same ones I’ve filed complaints against in the past. In September 2013, I filed an SEEC complaint on behalf of two Senior Citizens. Attorney Max Medina was there and notarized the affidavit of the complaint. It’s been two years since. Ten months ago I met with an official of the Post Office on Middle Street. We shared some facts and among the things I discovered was the SEEC never requested assistance or referred any matter having to do with the Postal Service. The Post Office wasn’t aware hundreds of ABs were not being mailed back for example. I don’t care how many ABs are sent back in this primary. The real question that will have to be answered is why? Were the ballots received in the first place? Did they mail it or gave it to someone and it was never mailed/received by the Town Clerk’s Office? The complaint I filed 10 months ago involves two ABs mailed out by the Town Clerk, but never received by the two seniors from the East Side.

  • Come Back Bridgeport

    Finch’s fear of transparency and his compulsion for shortcutting the electoral process is about to be subjected to public and law enforcement scrutiny. Trust me.

  • The Phantom

    Finch should have launched Gaudett out a long time ago to at least fool people into thinking he gives a rat’s tuchus about crime. Ganim walked right into the loophole. How many thugs walked into the PD to turn in their guns? I think the number of shootings in the last few days speaks for itself. Hoping it bites him Wednesday.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Why would Ganim want to personally go to the Central Avenue Complex to deal with absentee ballots? Was his FBI supporter out to lunch???

  • BPT Punisher

    They really need to make more strict policies for ABs. They really do give them to anyone who asks, bullshit reason or anything. Getting an AB is too easy!!!

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      The vast majority of US states have no-excuse absentee voting, the argument being it reduces voter suppression and increases voter participation in underserved urban areas.

      • BOE SPY

        And it increases voter fraud. Hence, it is used in Democrat-controlled urban areas with large, poor and ignorant populations. Since they do not know whom they are voting for anyway, just vote for them.

  • DougDavidoff

    I’ve volunteered in politics in several states. Having just returned to Connecticut, the process here is as complicated as any I have seen. The particular practices in Bridgeport are even more complicated.

    I know the comments section on OIB is filled with know-it-alls who would never stoop to admitting anything about elections and campaigns leaves them confused. But for the rest of us, here are two resources worth reading:

    1. Absentee Ballot webpage by the secretary of the state, Denise Merrill:
    www .sots.ct.gov/sots/cwp/view.asp?a=3179&q=533084

    2. A “cheat sheet” handy guide to the absentee ballot process and penalties for miscarriages of process:
    www .sots.ct.gov/sots/LIB/sots/ElectionServices/Misc/ABchartwarningREV9_051.pdf
    (I use “cheat sheet” in its most honest connotation; it’s the “Cliff Notes” meaning, in other words.)

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