HARTFORD, CT — State election regulators moved Monday to open an investigation into allegations of absentee ballot fraud in the recent Democratic primary by issuing subpoenas to the Bridgeport City Clerk and the owner of Park City Communities, the city’s housing authority.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim beat Sen. Marilyn Moore by 270 votes. Ganim lost to Moore at the polls, 4,721 to 4,337, but won the absentee total 967 to 313. Moore and her campaign are alleging widespread absentee ballot fraud.
Moore’s campaign wants the State Elections Enforcement Commission to investigate, but it’s looking for more — something the SEEC has never done before.
Max Medina, an attorney representing Moore’s campaign, said he wants the SEEC to refer the matter to the Attorney General’s office and the Chief State’s Attorney’s office to consider other remedial relief.
Medina said they are not looking to overturn the results of the Sept. 10 Democratic primary, which would require the involvement of the courts. Medina said the Moore campaign is looking to simply get Moore’s name on the Nov. 5 ballot, preferably above the line of Ganim.
On Friday, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill referred the matter to the SEEC for investigation and attached a report by Hearst CT Media, which detailed some of the confusion voters faced in casting their absentee ballots. Those ballots in some cases just showed up and without being requested by voters.
Gemeem Davis, Moore’s campaign manager, said there were lots of reports of intimidation of voters who live at 376 East Washington Avenue.
Hearst CT Media detailed a number of irregularities with the absentee ballots.
“We believe the SEEC along with the Attorney General’s office have jurisdiction and the power to order relief that would make a difference in the November election,” Medina said. “But if necessary, putting the case before the judge of the Superior Court is something we will consider.”
SEEC Executive Director Michael Brandi said they initiating an investigation and collecting the necessary documents. He was unable to address Medina’s request because he has not seen it.
Brandi said their role is to investigate the allegations of fraud and assess fines or penalties. The role of the SEEC isn’t to order a new election or make sure a candidate is on the ballot.
“They would have to go to court on that and find a remedy in court,” Brandi said.
Medina said the Moore campaign has 16 individuals willing to talk to the SEEC about the “outrageous conduct” they witnessed related to the Sept. 10 election.
“I think if you can find enough evidence of rampant systemic abuse, the court can infer from those facts as well,” Medina said.
He said he doesn’t want to trouble 300 Bridgeport residents, “some of whom are victims,” by dragging them into court.
“There are honest Bridgeport voters who get tricked by these operatives,” Medina said. “And end up casting votes for the candidate they meant to oppose.”
He said he hopes a court case is not necessary.
“Unless people start to pay a real penalty, these activities will never stop,” Medina said, referring to two previous Bridgeport elections that ended up in court.
John Bohannon, an associate city attorney, said they have not received the SEEC subpoena, but will accept service and have already started to coordinate document production.
Meanwhile, Moore has started a write-in campaign in case her fate doesn’t change and she’s unable to get onto the Nov. 5 ballot.