(Watch) CT GOP Leaders Call for Strengthened Election Security and Bipartisan Commission Amid Bridgeport Ballot Fraud Allegations

June 20, 2024

(Watch the press conference here.)

HARTFORD, CT—House and Senate Republicans on Thursday called upon Governor Lamont to immediately establish a bipartisan commission focused on reviewing and making recommendations to improve the security of Connecticut’s electoral process.

The request from Republicans marks their latest effort to bolster the integrity of state elections in the shadow of allegations of ballot fraud and other illegal campaign-related activity in Bridgeport. On June 11, four individuals were arrested in connection with 2019 ballot fraud allegations there, and probes continue into 2023 allegations sparked by a video of a campaign operative stuffing ballots into a drop box outside of a municipal center. Consequently, Bridgeport has once again made national headlines for corruption potential.

“Given everything that has transpired in Bridgeport, and the many unresolved questions there, it’s easy to understand why Connecticut residents are worried about holes in our election system that allow bad actors to thrive without fear of harsh consequences,” House and Senate Republican Leaders Vincent Candelora and Stephen Harding said. “Governor Lamont just formed a bipartisan commission to explore introducing a new method of choosing candidates. At the very least, this crisis in confidence in our existing election system demands the same amount of his attention that he’s giving Ranked Choice Voting.”

Candelora and Harding said the Governor should form a bipartisan commission whose mission is to focus on the absentee ballot process as well as the use of ballot drop boxes to develop fresh perspectives outside of the heavy workload of the General Assembly’s standard committee process. The goal, the Republican leaders said, would be for the panel to report its findings and recommendations to the Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee for possible action in the next legislative session.

“Decisions that govern our voting system should not be made on party-line votes, with the Democrat majority dictating the terms. That’s the absolute worst way to address the crisis of confidence in Connecticut’s electoral system. These decisions should be made via a bipartisan process, with collaboration from all sides, to ensure that both majority and minority interests are protected,” said Candelora and Harding.

In addition to appointees from the Governor, Candelora and Harding said the commission should feature state legislators, a representative from the Office of the Secretary of the State as well as the Registrar of Voters Association of Connecticut. The commission would have no shortage of initial concepts to ponder.

Republicans have driven the conversation in the General Assembly on issues tied to election integrity, with Senate and House Ranking Members of the GAE Committee, Sen. Rob Sampson and Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, providing proposals and passionate arguments to safeguard the absentee voting process.

“We have repeatedly offered solutions to secure our elections and the Democrats have consistently rejected them along party lines. As if we needed more confirmation that there is a problem, we’ve now seen four Bridgeport Democrat operatives finally arrested for absentee ballot fraud dating back to 2019. The fact is, our elections are not secure, and we know what the problem is,” Sampson and Mastrofrancesco said. “At the same time, the Governor is distracting with Ranked Choice Voting instead of using his bully pulpit to help solve the problem. It is time that legislative Democrats join us to prevent more voter disenfranchisement in our cities and towns.”

Candelora and Harding added that a show of strength on election integrity from the Governor and Democrats who control the legislature is long overdue.

“Elections in Connecticut are at a crucial point,” said Candelora and Harding. “This is our first general election with early voting. In November, voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to allow no-excuse absentee ballots—a significant and potentially risky change without meaningful election security reforms. Meanwhile, Democrat party officials in Bridgeport have thumbed their noses at the controversy by embracing and even endorsing, people immersed in the bad behavior. When it comes to voter confidence, these are challenging times. We must act now to demonstrate to Connecticut residents that we’re taking this issue seriously.”