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New Mayoral Democratic Primary Ordered After ‘Shocking’ Videos Of Ballot Drop Boxes Emerge

  A judge has ruled that a Democratic mayoral primary in   Connecticut   be held again after surveillance videos emerged that captured a cit...

 A judge has ruled that a Democratic mayoral primary in Connecticut be held again after surveillance videos emerged that captured a city official and former city councilwoman appearing to place numerous ballots into a drop box in a way that violated state election law. 

Superior Court Judge William F. Clark ordered the new primary after Bridgeport incumbent Democratic Mayor Joe Ganim won a narrow victory over challenger John Gomes last month. Gomes, who lost by 251 votes after 81,873 were cast, had sued City Clerk Charles Clemons, Jr., alleging election fraud. 

Clark ruled that footage showed city employee Wanda Geter-Pataky and former Councilwoman Eneida Martinez broke the law when they “mishandled” ballots. 

“Therefore, the counting of any ballots that were mishandled in violation of state law and placed into drop boxes by Ms. Geter-Pataky, Ms. Martinez, and others, was a mistake in the vote count. Given the volume of votes at issue, the miscounting of those statutorily invalid votes leaves this court unable to determine the result of the primary,” the judge wrote on Wednesday. 

The judge said that Geter-Pataky actively dropped “numerous ballots into the box herself,” sometimes very early in the morning or late at night. He also pointed to footage that appeared to show her handling stacks of ballots and escorting people to drop off multiple ballots. 

“These instances do not appear to be random. They appear to be conscious acts with a partisan purpose that violates the mandatory requirements of how absentee ballots are supposed to be handled or delivered,” Clark said. 

Geter-Pataky and Martinez pointed to their Fifth Amendment rights when asked about some of their actions during testimony before Clark last month. 

“The volume of evidence in this case, including the many hundreds of hours of video surveillance disclosed and accepted into evidence is, perhaps, unprecedented in the state of Connecticut in an election case,” the judge said, who added that the videos were “shocking.”

Gomes called the decision “a victory for the people of Bridgeport.” 

“Our campaign always believed that the integrity of our democratic process must be upheld and Superior Court Judge William Clark agreed,” he said. Gomes had previously shared footage on Facebook of individuals dropping off ballots at drop boxes.

No date for the new primary has been set yet because it might not be necessary. It all depends on what happens in the upcoming November 7 general election when Ganim faces off against Gomes, who is running as an independent, and Republican David Herz.

If Gomes wins on November 7, his legal team said they would withdraw the complaint, and Gomes would become mayor. If Ganim wins, another Democratic primary would be held, per Judge Clark’s ruling.

If a new Democratic primary is held and Gomes wins, a new general election would be scheduled, according to Gomes’ attorney. If Ganim were to win, he would be re-elected mayor. No further general election would take place because Gomes’ complaint sought a new primary election, according to the Connecticut Mirror.


Connecticut Secretary of State Stephanie Thomas agreed with the court order.

“We’re pleased Judge Clark is protecting the integrity of our elections by ordering a new Primary Election,” she said. “Per the Court’s decision, the Secretary of the State’s office will confer with the mayoral candidate campaigns, elections officials in Bridgeport, and other officials to determine the date of the new Primary within 10 days.”

Connecticut state Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly, a Republican, said the ruling confirmed concerns about the potential for abuse of absentee ballots. 

“These videos confirm our fears about how absentee ballots can be misused. Now the court has spoken,” he said. “What we need now is trust, faith and confidence in our electoral system.”

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