A Bridgeport, Connecticut judge ruled on Wednesday to overturn the city’s Democratic primary election after video emerged of a woman who appears to be the city’s vice chair of the Democratic Town Committee, Wanda Geter-Pataky, committing ballot fraud.
In a 37-page ruling, Judge William Clark ordered a new Democratic primary based on 180 pieces of evidence presented by legal council for mayoral candidate John Gomes – who posted the following video to Facebook on September 16, and was seen by the court.
“Mr. Ganim was also correct to be ‘shocked’ at what he saw on the video clips in evidence that were shown to him while he was on the witness stand,” wrote Judge Clark, referring to incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim. “The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties.”
Ganin was one the many city officials called to the Fairfield Judicial District Superior Courthouse for questioning, along with Wanda Geter-Pataky, vice chair of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee and operations specialist for the city, and Eneida Martinez, a former City Council member accused by Gomes of stuffing ballot dropboxes.
At the witness stand, Ganim told the court he was “shocked” by an 18-minute video – subpoenaed by Gomes from Bridgeport police – that appeared to show 12 instances of Geter-Pataky either depositing stacks of ballots herself or handing ballots to others from behind her reception desk, and four instances of Martinez dropping off ballots.
Asked about the footage during the hearings, both Geter-Pataky and Martinez asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination . Ganim, who appeared to win the primary by 250 votes after a count of absentee ballots, denied any involvement in the alleged fraud. –CT Examiner
Under Connecticut state law, absentee ballots may only be submitted by the applicant, a family member, a police officer, an election official or a caretaker. According to Clark, the footage is direct evidence that state law was violated when “unauthorized partisans” engaged in ballot stuffing.
Bloss also argued that many of the absentee ballots never should have been counted because they were improperly stamped.
“This is a victory for the people of Bridgeport,” said Gomes. “Our campaign always believed that the integrity of our democratic process must be upheld and Superior Court Judge William Clark agreed.”
Speaking with the CT Examiner, Bloss said that the new ruling was a “necessary first step” towards correcting ballot harvesting abuse in Bridgeport.
“It’s a well-reasoned ruling. Very fact-intensive,” said Gomes. “I think Judge Clark’s expression of shock at the videos was something that many people shared – everybody except the city officials, frankly.”