As far as absentee ballot action goes, what a difference an election cycle makes. As of Monday just 346 absentee ballots citywide had been returned to the Town Clerk’s Office for next Tuesday’s general election, about half of what had been received one week prior to the September 10th Democratic primary for school board and four City Council Districts. One reason for this was the hotly contested primary in the East Side 137th District where the city’s queen of absentee ballots City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez once again lost on the machines but prevailed with a mighty absentee ballot operation that also carried in her city employee running mate Milta Feliciano.
Yes indeed, more than one third of Lydia and Milta’s votes came via absentee ballots. They had twice as many votes by absentee voting as their opponents Maria Valle and Aidee Nieves. Lydia has a remarkable crystal ball when it comes to her voters. Amazing, all those folks who required an absentee ballot for the contested primary do not need one in the general election where Lydia enjoys a 10 to 1 registration advantage over her Republican opponents. In this general election no need for Lydia to entice her constituency with ferry trips to Port Jefferson, bus trips to casinos or other destinations of interest, with absentee ballot applications poised for the grateful.
Legitimate campaigning for serial absentee ballot voters, mostly among the elderly, exists. Bridgeport has a core group of seniors who cannot make it to the polls as well as others who will be away election day. Connecticut is just one of a handful of states with excuse-only absentee voting, courtesy of its state constitution with specific rules of engagement. Most states allow early voting without excuse. Connecticut electors will decide on the early-voting question in the 2014 general election. Meanwhile, Lydia will continue to work her peeps and perhaps even next year for a possible run for State House?
The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission has authorized an investigation into Martinez’ absentee ballot activity for the September 10th primary. Martinez has been fined twice the past several years for election law violations.