NBC CT: Election security dominates discussion during legislative special session

September 28, 2023

By Kevin Gaiss

Lawmakers descended on the State Capitol Tuesday for a special session to take up a few topics including an election bill, and to appoint a new judge to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

But the majority of debate centered around the video out of Bridgeport that candidate John Gomes claims shows a City Hall employee and Joe Ganim supporter making several drops into a absentee ballot box outside government center.  NBC CT has not independently verified the video.

“We need to take a look at what has happened in Bridgeport and restore integrity in our elections,” said House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora.

Republican lawmakers pointed to the video Tuesday as justification to highlight election security ahead of the general election in November.

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

The election bill in question in part would fund an election monitor in the city of Bridgeport, whose responsibility would be to oversee upcoming elections and prevent wrongdoing. But, in session, Republicans in both chambers attempted to introduce amendments to the election bill in question, like banning ballot drop boxes or increasing penalties for election crimes.

“For the legislature to come in and change the rules for the entire state, I’m not sure that is the right solution for a special session date,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said.

Democratic lawmakers believe before major changes are made, the investigation in Bridgeport should be completed, and the election monitor will suffice for the upcoming general election.

“We can’t shoot first and aim second,” said Rep. Matt Blumenthal (D – Greenwich).

Lawmakers say they are in favor of further discussion about election security when the legislative session starts in February.

Also in the election bill, a change to Connecticut’s Presidential Primary date, moving the date of the primary from the end of April to the first week in April.

“I think it will certainly make us more relevant and it gives us additional delegates,” Rep. Blumenthal said.

Also, a new Supreme Court Judge got bi-partisan support from lawmakers. Lawmakers in both chambers voted in favor of Nora Dannehy joining the bench of the Connecticut Supreme Court

“She is a capable and qualified attorney, she has done very good in the jobs she has been appointed, and I look forward to supporting that nomination,” Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly said.