Photo by Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media

Connecticut Democratic Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas’ office issued a press release on Monday, warning voters about election fraud concerns and encouraging residents to vote in person in the upcoming Bridgeport mayoral election scheduled for January 23, 2024.

Thomas said that there are two officials that have been assigned to monitor the upcoming Bridgeport elections, but that the monitors “cannot do it all”, the CT Examiner reported.

“We encourage anyone who can do so to vote in person on January 23rd. If someone voted by absentee ballot, but is unsure if they should have done so, they may withdraw their absentee ballot by going in-person to the Town Clerk’s office before 10 a.m. on Election Day, and they may then vote at their assigned polling place,” Thomas advised.

The ruling comes after a judge ruled to overturn Bridgeport’s Democratic primary election in November, over allegations of absentee ballot fraud. Mayor Joe Ganim appeared to win his re-election campaign, but then was accused of fraud by his primary opponent, John Gomes.

In his decision to overturn the results, Judge William Clark pointed to evidence of absentee ballot fraud that was brought forward by Gomes. Gomes appeared to have lost to Ganim by 251 votes, but that was only after stacks of ballots were reportedly deposited overnight.

The 37 page ruling alleges that absentee ballots were mishandled at two drop boxes and that Wanda Geter-Pataky, vice chair of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee and operations specialist for the city, was involved in at least 10 separate drops of multiple ballots.

The ruling also alleges that Eneida Martinez, a former city council member, is on video multiple times making multiple ballot drops.

In response to the videos Judge Clark wrote “Mr. Ganim was also correct to be ‘shocked’ at what he saw on the video clips in evidence that were shown to him while he was on the witness stand. The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties.”

The Judge ruled that “given the volume of votes at issue, the miscounting of those statutorily invalid votes leaves this court unable to determine the result of the primary.”

Judge William Clark cited “significant mishandling of ballots by partisans” such as Geter-Pataky and Martinez. The judge said that the volume of mishandled ballots is “perhaps unprecedented in the State of Connecticut in an election case.”

“The evidence here has involved hundreds of applications and ballots, thousands of hours of video of drop boxes, testimony of partisan actors, assertion of privilege against self-incrimination by Ms. Geter-Pataky and Ms. Martinez, and analysis of ballot numbers, particularly in the voting Districts linked to Ms. Geter-Pataky and Ms. Martinez,” Judge Clark wrote in the 37-page ruling.

The judge did stop short in the ruling of tossing out improperly stamped absentee ballots, despite Gomes’ attorney, Bill Bloss, pushing for that. Judge Clark said that the city should have taken appropriate steps to fix the issue of the broken stamps, but that “the court recognizes the practical realities on the ground.”

Ganim was first elected mayor in 1991 and served for 12 years before spending seven years in prison after being convicted of racketeering, extortion, and other crimes, the Associated Press reported. Ganim was later re-elected to the same position.

Director of communications Tara Chozet told the CT Examiner on Monday that Bridgeport has a history of absentee ballot fraud allegations.

“The allegations of absentee ballot fraud in this city go back decades, and because of that, it’s important for Bridgeport voters to know that in-person voting is just one of the many tools they can use to counter the problems that Judge Clark’s order seeks to address,” Chozet stated.

Chozet also said that no “specific issues” have been reported this election cycle.

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