Absentee ballot application
The absentee ballot application reads that you must put in an excuse to make use of your absentee ballot application. Credit: Christine Stuart / CTNewsJunkie.com

Bridgeport mayoral candidate John Gomes filed a lawsuit Tuesday morning asking a superior court to declare him the winner of last week’s Democratic primary or order a new election as a result of alleged absentee ballot fraud in his contest against incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim. 

The five-page compliant, authored by attorney William Bloss, names as defendants Ganim, Town Clerk Charles Clemons, Jr., Democratic Registrar of Voters Patricia Howard, and Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas.  

Ganim’s 251-vote victory in the primary hinged largely on absentee ballots and Gomes’ lawsuit centers on a series of surveillance videos apparently showing a Ganim supporter making several trips to deposit absentee ballots in a city drop box. But for a few specific exceptions, state law generally requires that voters return ballots themselves.

“Gomes is aggrieved of rulings of election officials, there has been a mistake in the count of the votes, and he is aggrieved by violations of the provisions of the Connecticut General Statutes governing the casting of absentee ballots,” Bloss wrote. 

The lawsuit contends that election administrators violated state law by counting ballots that were deposited in drop boxes by someone other than the voters or their approved designees, ballots submitted by voters who did not personally sign the ballot applications, as well as ballots cast by voters who were assisted by campaign representatives and failed to note the assistance on their applications.

“As a result of the foregoing, alone or in combination, the reliability of the result of the election is seriously in doubt,” Bloss wrote.

In addition to the lawsuit, Gomes has also asked the court to order city officials to provide records pertaining to absentee ballot applications and returns as well as video recordings of all ballot drop boxes and the registrar of voters office dating back to Aug. 22.

The Gomes campaign has also filed multiple complaints with state election regulators at the State Elections Enforcement Commission, according to Thomas. The group is scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning for the first time since last week’s primary election. 

Bridgeport police are investigating the videos mentioned in Gomes’ lawsuit, according to Ganim who issued a statement condemning any election impropriety. 

The allegations have prompted Republican lawmakers to call for legislation addressing election security during a special session convened to vet Gov. Ned Lamont’s nomination of Nora Dannehy to the state Supreme Court and pass a bipartisan bill moving Connecticut’s presidential primary date to the first week in April.