A Superior Court Judge signed off on a Jan. 23, 2024 Bridgeport mayoral primary, but decided not to give voters an additional month to apply for an absentee ballot. 

On Friday, Superior Court Judge William F. Clark approved the proposed order for Bridgeport’s upcoming Democratic primary, which will only feature incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim and challenger John Gomes. The order, initiated by the Secretary of the State, excludes the additional four weeks for absentee ballot applications that Ganim’s campaign had sought in a last-minute motion. Clark rejected this request.

City officials had expressed their belief that the public should be granted access to absentee ballot applications starting on December 1, a month earlier than the originally suggested date of January 2. However, Gomes disagreed with the necessity of distributing absentee ballots nearly two months in advance of the new primary.

The proposed order calls on city officials to make absentee ballot applications available beginning on Dec. 29, giving voters a shorter window to apply for ballots. The order also includes a requirement that the city put serial numbers on ballot applications in cases where an individual requires five or more applications.

Another proposed requirement calls for the town clerk to stamp each absentee ballot deposited in a drop box with the phrase “Drop Box” as well as his name and the date and time the ballot was received.

“Before 5 p.m. on the day after the Special Democratic Primary either candidate may request that copies of absentee ballot applications, absentee ballot application logs, outer envelopes and inner envelopes be produced to the candidates within two days,” Clark’s order reads. “This court shall retain jurisdiction in this matter until such time as a candidate for the Democratic Party for Mayor of the City of Bridgeport has been duly nominated.” 

Clark’s order goes on to explain that if Gomes emerges as the victor in the upcoming primary, a subsequent general mayoral election is scheduled for February 27, 2024, with Gomes as the lead candidate on the ballot, as outlined in the Secretary of the State’s plan. Republican David Herz and petitioning candidate Lamond Daniels would also qualify to take part in the new general election.

During the initial primary held on September 12, Ganim secured a 251-vote advantage over Gomes. Subsequently, Gomes initiated a lawsuit, alleging absentee ballot fraud involving certain supporters of the incumbent mayor.

Following a three-day trial, Clark decided to order a new primary, following the regularly scheduled Nov. 7 election, in which Gamin won again by the absentee ballot count.