Conard High School voting booths. Credit: Christine Stuart photo

State officials may hire a temporary election monitor to oversee next month’s municipal election in Bridgeport because of difficulties finding a qualified candidate to fill the two-year post, a spokesperson for Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas said Wednesday.

The state legislature allocated $150,000 to the office to fund the position when it convened for a special session just last month. Tara Chozet, a spokesperson for Thomas, said that receiving the funding so close to the Nov. 7 election was among the challenges that has complicated efforts to recruit a qualified candidate.

“We believe it is more important to have the right person, and not just any person, so we are looking for an interim solution for the general election,” Chozet said in an email.

The position is one of unique importance this year, as a judge weighs allegations of absentee ballot fraud brought by mayoral candidate John Gomes, who has argued the city’s Democratic primary should be overturned based in part on surveillance videos apparently showing supporters of Mayor Joe Ganim making several trips to deposit items in ballot drop boxes.

Chozet said the secretary of the state was still accepting applications for the monitor position and had cast a wide net including reaching out to groups representing Connecticut registrars of voters, town clerks, and the Connecticut Bar Association as well as posting the job on recruitment sites like LinkedIn.

The monitor is expected to spot “irregularity and impropriety” in the management of the election by conducting interviews with the city’s town clerk and registrars as well as their respective staffs, according to the job description. The monitor will also review relevant absentee ballots, early voting, and Election Day registrations in Bridgeport and report back to the secretary of the state. 

Chozet said the office had so far only received a handful of applications. She attributed the lack of candidates in part to the specific skill set the office is seeking, which includes knowledge of election laws, familiarity with Bridgeport, and cultural competency. An applicant must also be willing to sign on for a two-year, non-state job with no benefits, she said.

“Do you have experience and keen knowledge of CT and Federal election laws?” the office’s LinkedIn post asked. “Have you administered elections or legally represented election administrators in Connecticut? Consider this important opportunity.”