Connecticut Democrats cry foul in Bridgeport mayoral primary.
by Rob Roper
Apparently, many Connecticut Democrats weren’t thrilled at the idea of a convicted felon (and, LOL, seven-term incumbent) winning their primary for the city of Bridgeport’s mayoral race. They were relieved when going to bed on election night that challenger John Gomes appeared to have pulled off a 487-vote victory. But in the wee hours of the morning, the corrupt felon/incumbent Joe Ganim somehow (this author now scratching head, rubbing chin, and peering side-eyed up at the sky) managed to nearly double the challenger’s tally of absentee ballot votes to come out on top by 251.
Now a host of — shall we call them “Democrat election deniers,” or would that be unfair? – are hurling allegations of absentee ballot fraud, and it looks like with pretty good reason. A (actually another) major investigation is now underway.
Like Vermont, Connecticut has, shall we say, extremely lax laws regarding the use and abuse of absentee ballots. In the Gomes/Ganim case the principal target of investigation is a Wanda Geter-Pataky, who is both a city employee and vice chair of the Democrat town committee. Geter-Pataky is also facing charges in an investigation into the misuse of absentee ballots in 2019 where, so the story always seems to go, Ganim lost on election night only to be declared winner when the absentee ballots came in overwhelmingly in his favor.
In this case, according to the CT Mirror, “The State Elections Enforcement Commission… received at least four complaints from citizens and two referrals from the Bridgeport Police Department regarding possible misuse of absentee ballots, including their distribution at senior housing complexes.” At the heart of the investigation is video of Geter-Pataky allegedly stuffing multiple drop-boxes with multiple absentee ballots on multiple occasions.
The way Geter-Pataky’s fraud scheme apparently works is she targets vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly and disabled and those on a rental rebate program using city-owned lists and the personal data contained in them that should have been restricted, according to the woman who runs the rental rebate program. Geter-Pataky then requests absentee ballots for these voters, conveniently shows up to “help” fill out their ballots, and, oh so courteously saving folks a stamp, returns the ballots to a drop box.
Investigators have since discovered that in several instances “voters” did not exist at the addresses where absentee ballots were sent and returned from. But perhaps even more damningly, there was one instance where the absentee voter did live. According to the CT Mirror,
“Denise Solano, a candidate for the Bridgeport city council in the 133rd District, filed one of those complaints with the SEEC. In it, Solano alleges that while she was door-knocking, a woman named Elease Lowery told the Gomes team she had already voted. That complaint further alleged that Lowery told her Wanda Geter-Pataky had already picked up her ballot.
‘She always comes and fills it out for me, and actually I always call my neighbor and she fills it out for the both of us and takes them with her,’ Lowery allegedly told Solano.”
Solano’s complaint further indicates that this elderly voter is under the impression that this is the proper, legal procedure for voting: someone comes to your door, fills out your ballot for you, and takes it away. She was therefore surreally “grateful” for being made complicit in an elections crime.
What does all this have to do with Vermont, you ask? Vermont’s election system is even more vulnerable to this kind of cheating than Connecticut’s and, as such, absentee ballot fraud is more likely to be occurring here, and even less likely to be detected.
In Connecticut, a voter has to request an absentee ballot. In Vermont, “live” absentee ballots are sent to all voters regardless of request. So, Vermont’s versions of Geter-Patakys don’t have to bother with the trouble of committing the illegal act of filling out thousands of fraudulent absentee ballot requests. The state now takes care of that step for them!
This means there are thousands of unsupervised ballots floating around with no voter “security check” in place. Someone who never requested an absentee ballot isn’t likely to report that it’s gone missing. If they do, it isn’t likely to be chalked up to fraud.
In Connecticut someone who moved away isn’t going to request an absentee ballot be sent to an old, incorrect address, but under Vermont’s laws ballots are sent to non-residents at old addresses all the time. Anyone can fill out those “extra” ballots and send them in with virtually zero chance of the fraud being detected, and absolute zero chance of getting caught even if it were.
In Connecticut the law limits who can return absentee ballots on behalf of other voters to family members, police officers, local election officials or someone who is directly caring for someone who is ill or physically disabled. In Vermont, anyone can return anyone else’s ballot. The law limits this kind of “ballot harvesting” to twenty-five ballots per fraudster, but since we have unsupervised drop boxes and the USPS as options for returning fraudulently filled out ballots, there is no real enforcement mechanism for this already lax provision.
The suspicious actions that led to the deeper investigation of Geter-Pataky were related to video of her turning in multiple ballots for which she was allegedly not legally allowed to do so. Since there are no such safeguards in Vermont, not even a requirement for video surveillance of drop boxes, someone in Vermont somehow getting “caught” doing what Geter-Pataky was doing would not generate any criminal charges or spark any further investigation into the nature of how he or she got all those ballots. Nothing to see here, folks! Move along.
Vermont lawmakers have created an election cheater’s paradise: No voter ID of any kind, a blizzard of unclaimed, unsupervised absentee ballots floating around the countryside, voting is increasingly removed from election officials’ oversight, you get a full forty-five days of early voting in which to organize and round up as many unclaimed or unwanted ballots you can find and fill out, and almost no means provided for election officials to detect that your fraud has taken place. If they somehow do, there’s no way to trace the fraud back to you. Let the games begin!
At this juncture, having pointed out all the above, Vermont fraud deniers will argue that people are honest, I’m horrible for suggesting otherwise, and this sort of thing just doesn’t happen here. HA! While I agree most people are honest most of the time – though politics does not generally bring out the best aspects of human nature — as this latest event in Connecticut illustrates, it doesn’t take many bad apples to spoil a full barrel of ballots. In this case it appears it took just one to flip the results of an election in which nearly 8200 ballots were cast.
Next the fraud deniers will defiantly state that there is no evidence of absentee ballot fraud in Vermont. Which is true. But not because it’s not happening; because our lawmakers have made any potential evidence of fraud impossible to detect, trace, or prosecute. Why do you think that is?
Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics, robertroper.substack.com