Fox 61: Connecticut lawmakers meet for second special session this month

September 28, 2023

By: Emma Wulfhorst, Jennifer Glatz

HARTFORD, Conn. — The cloud of alleged election fraud in Bridgeport covered the state capitol during Tuesday’s special session.

“Democracy shouldn’t occur in the dark of night and that’s what’s happening,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Vincent Candelora outside the House chamber Tuesday.

“Our caucus takes very seriously what we have seen in videotape and the accusations being alleged in the city of Bridgeport,” said  Speaker of the House Rep. Matt Ritter.

What was initially a short agenda grew into long discussions about election security and confidence.

“How loose are we going to let our elections go?” Candelora questioned. “At some point, we need to examine our system and actually acknowledge the problem.”

Republicans in both chambers introduced multiple amendments Tuesday, to ban absentee ballot drop boxes statewide, authorize the designated elections monitor in Bridgeport to ban the use of drop boxes just within the city, and increase penalties for criminal election violation by requiring a mandatory minimum 1-year prison sentence.

All amendments failed on party-line votes.

“Drop boxes have made it too easy to harvest ballots and dump them into the system,” Candelora said.

“Either suspending or banning drop boxes would inevitably disenfranchise hundreds if not thousands of voters throughout the state,” said state Rep. Matt Blumenthal, (D-Stamford), co-chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee.

Republicans called for this special session to be used to address what’s playing out in Bridgeport.

“Look at what the majority is doing right now,” said Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly. “We have an opportunity to fix this before the November election and they want to push it out.”

Democrats argued these issues should be taken up during the regular session in February.

“We don’t believe the wrecking ball approach is the right one here,” Ritter continued. “All you’re doing is disenfranchising those individuals.”

“We need to allow the situation to develop in Bridgeport, so we actually know what happened,” added Blumenthal. “We’ll be back and regular session soon enough, in order to make any changes we may need to make, in any direction.”

Some parts of Tuesday’s agenda did pass easily through both chambers – the nomination of Nora Dannehy to fill an open spot on the state supreme court, and moving up the state’s presidential primary date four weeks earlier, from the last Tuesday in April to the first Tuesday.