Op-ed | ‘Yes, elections do have consequences.’ (December 2023)

December 1, 2023

The quote “elections have consequences” made famous by former President Barack Obama, has taken on new meaning in the wake of the Bridgeport ballot-stuffing scandal. Partisan politicians seem to enjoy repeating this popular catchphrase whenever they get a political “win” by imposing their agenda, or electing their preferred candidates, or as a warning to anyone that dare challenge the latest triumphs – good or bad for the rest of us.


I wonder if Connecticut’s legislative Democrats, reveling in their huge majorities, now see the irony in this statement, as their own destructive election policies have resulted in the now nationally documented case of ballot fraud exposed during Bridgeport’s recent Democrat mayoral primary.


Along with my remarkable friend and colleague, Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco (R-Wolcott), I have written and spoken ad nauseam on this topic as the ranking member of our legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee. We have offered literally dozens of bills and amendments to prevent the flagrant abuse that we saw with our own eyes in Bridgeport, thanks to a ballot drop box security camera—which was in place no thanks to state law, and only came to light due to a “leak” from the Bridgeport PD.


In committee meetings and on the Senate floor, I’ve warned of the dangers of mixing flawed voter rolls with unsolicited absentee ballot applications and unsecured ballot drop boxes. It’s a recipe for disaster – and not the only problematic aspect of our election process in Connecticut.


Each time, I have made the case, I could not have been clearer. The goal is for every eligible voter to have access to a ballot to have their voice heard and to simultaneously secure the integrity of our elections so that every voter regardless of the place, time, or party affiliation trusts in the results.


Rather than heeding my warnings or working cooperatively with me to secure our elections, legislative Democrats repeatedly dismissed, or even mocked, my logical, and clearly much-needed recommendations.  Some even implied that my goal of maintaining election integrity or security amounted to race-based voter suppression.


Even some in the press made a point to minimize legitimate policy points while injecting their obvious bias into coverage of elections and election laws, topics where objective truthfulness should be the standard.


In one example, a statewide media outlet even went so far as to mischaracterize my completely true account of actual election irregularity in my district as “…baseless claims of election fraud,” citing their own reporting as a source. To date, the publication has not corrected or retracted this claim. The goal here was simple: to paint me as an ‘election denier’ and capitalize on the national narratives surrounding the 2020 presidential election.


Back to the present. Quite a few elected Democrats, and their media enablers, are performing mental gymnastics of Olympic level.


The September security camera footage that captured a Bridgeport city employee stuffing dozens of absentee ballots in a dropbox was undeniable. So undeniable, in fact, that a state superior court judge ruled in November that there must be a new Democrat mayoral primary because the “shocking” footage prevented authorities from determining the “legitimate result” of the original primary election.


It appears that corrupt elections also have consequences. How many eligible Bridgeport Democrat voters had their ballot effectively nullified by the deluge of likely fraudulent ballots? How many of their voices were silenced?


How many other elections across the state have been impacted by bad actors exploiting bad election laws? Do we really think this is an isolated incident?


While I believe in due process, reasonable people across Connecticut did not need two months to figure this one out. However, our Governor did. His position, and that of some other legislative Democrats, has evolved each day.


At first, we were told that the video might not be real—even though local authorities never disputed the video’s authenticity.

According to Matt Caron of Fox 61 in a story from November 9, 2023,


Gov, Ned Lamont spoke on this issue in September. “I want to go after this aggressively,” said Lamont. But when Republicans urged a special session to tackle election security – nothing happened.


“I think we did tackle it,” said Lamont on Thursday. “We’ve got video cameras on each and every one of those drop boxes and that’s how we are able to see that people are probably trying to stuff the boxes. We caught it.”


Of course, the only reason it was caught was thanks to “leaked” footage. Buried in the details of this debacle is that Connecticut Democrats in the legislature have voted down my proposed amendments for mandatory ballot drop box surveillance cameras since their inception in 2020.


So, how intent are those state Democrats to fix the wrongs in Bridgeport to restore public confidence in all our state’s elections?


After the legislature approved funding for a Bridgeport “election monitor” in September, a bare minimum and sadly inconsequential gesture —and the party line rejection of all five of my proposed amendments to bring real security to our elections—the Secretary of the State quietly filled the position a mere days before the Nov. 7 elections, and only days after I publicly questioned her inaction on the matter.


Until now, the whole series of events has been pretty demoralizing for those of us invested in truly protecting the sanctity of our election process.


Now that the national press has chimed in, the pressure seems to be on, and I’m watching some prominent Democrat leaders at least pretending to care about fixing it. “You cannot ignore what has happened, and so we’ll have to look at it,” House Speaker Matt Ritter, D- Hartford, said in early November.


Even Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, whose primary campaign was at the heart of this controversy, is now on record opposing drop boxes. “…I’d get rid of them,” he said prior to Election Day.


Most importantly, Connecticut’s elected Democrats who created the enormous gaps in our election security and continue to refuse reasonable statewide measures to secure our elections must be held accountable. If we are going to make progress and ultimately fix this, it will require a powerful and consistent appeal from the public to demand action in the next legislative session and/or the 2024 election.