The disputed results of the Sept. 10 Democratic mayoral primary in Bridgeport are now the subject of an official state investigation, as well as a lawsuit.
Following Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s call for the State Elections Enforcement Commission to launch an inquiry into the matter, the SEEC has opened an investigation into allegations of voter fraud made by state Sen. Marilyn Moore. The commission has issued subpoenas for a number of elections records, as well as visitor logs and video surveillance for public housing complexes P.T. Barnum and Harborview Towers.
At issue is what Moore claims are unusual irregularities in the primary’s absentee balloting. Although Moore defeated incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim 4,721 to 4,337 at the polls, an absentee ballot tally of 967 to 313 pushed the sitting mayor to a 5,304 to 5,034 victory.The senator has also filed a motion for the SEEC to ask Attorney General William Tong’s office to help expedite the investigation, as well as to receive a court order placing her on the Nov. 5 ballot on a line above Ganim.
Moore’s campaign is also considering filing a lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court to force a new primary election or to guarantee her a spot on the November ballot. According to Merrill’s office, the deadline for filing a lawsuit challenging the primary’s results is next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Trumbull attorney Prerna Rao has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three individuals in state Superior Court to force a new primary election, alleging “irregularities and illegal conduct” involving the absentee ballots.
“Multiple individuals associated with Mayor Ganim, the endorsed (Democratic) candidates and/or the (Democratic) Town Committee engaged in illegal and/or improper primary election activity concerning absentee ballots,” the lawsuit states.
It goes on to allege that eligible voters were given unsolicited absentee ballots or were instructed on how to vote in 17 separate cases. One of those, City Clerk Lydia Martinez, is alleged to have approached some residents of the public housing complexes, telling them how to vote and offering to help fill out their ballots.
Martinez has denied the allegations.
Ganim has expressed support for the investigation into the primary results, but maintains that the voting results are legitimate.