Christine Stuart photo
State Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi (Christine Stuart photo)

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut’s top election regulator said insinuations that in-person voter fraud is rampant and that the election is somehow rigged are concerns being “ratcheted up by Mr. Trump” and “there’s no factual basis behind any of it.”

Michael Brandi, executive director of the State Elections Enforcement Commission, made those statements Saturday at a League of Women Voters forum.

Brandi said they’ve been meeting with federal, state and local officials to make sure everything goes smoothly on Nov. 8 and don’t anticipate any problems.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill reminded poll moderators that they should call local law enforcement if they witness any type of voter intimidation or voter suppression at the polls. Brandi said he expects poll watching to be done to a greater degree in other more competitive states like Pennsylvania or Ohio.

“We have very secure elections. No one is rigging the election,” Brandi said.

In Connecticut, there have been 97 cases of voter fraud since 1974.

“There’s never been a voter impersonation case,” Brandi said. “It’s the proverbial solution in search of a problem.”

He said Connecticut has had fraud cases involving voter intimidation, absentee ballot fraud, and people trying to fraudulently register voters, but no one is showing up at polling places pretending to be someone they aren’t.

“You have 1.8 million people who are dead, who are registered to vote, and some of them absolutely vote,” Trump said during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity. He was citing a 2012 Pew Center for the States report.

But Brandi said there’s no evidence in that report to back up with Trump is saying.

The report found “More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters,” but there was never any evidence to indicate people are impersonating them and showing up at polling places. The purpose of the report was to show how the voter registration system has not kept pace with modern life and technology.

“The concept of in-person voter fraud—it doesn’t exist,” Brandi said.

He said the voter rolls need to be cleaned up to remove those who have died or moved out of the state, but no one is using the voter list to impersonate somebody else.

“There’s no evidence to support that,” Brandi added.

The most common fraud that occurs is absentee ballot fraud where campaigns seek out vulnerable populations and help them fill out the ballots.

In 2003, former state Rep. Barnaby Horton of Hartford was charged with absentee voter fraud after he was caught inducing elderly voters to cast absentee ballots. He later pleaded guilty to felony charges of ballot fraud and paid a $10,000 fine to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. In 2013, Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Hartford, lost her Superior Court appeal of a SEEC ruling that she was “knowingly present” when four voters fraudulently filled out absentee ballots at City Hall in 2006.

Then in 2015, former state Rep. Christina Ayala of Bridgeport agreed to a plea deal for voting in a series of elections in districts where she did not live.

Those are just three of most recent examples of voter fraud cases in Connecticut.

Meanwhile, Connecticut saw a record number of voters registering to vote this year.

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, the number of registered voters has reached a record high.

As of Monday, 2,115,434 people were registered to vote. The previous high of 2,104,189 voters was reached in the 2008 election.

As for turnout, Merrill has said it will be close to what the state has seen in previous presidential election years.

In 2008, turnout topped 78 percent and in 2012 turnout was just shy of 74 percent, according to Merrill’s office.