Sen. Harding: “Now Do CT Democrats Want to Pass Real Election Reforms?”

June 11, 2024

Hartford Courant

Republican legislators are increasing their calls for new legislation after four Democrats were arrested Tuesday in a Bridgeport primary election controversy.

Wanda Geter-Pataky, the vice chairwoman of the city’s Democratic Town Committee, and city council member Alfredo Castillo were among those arrested Tuesday in a case brought by the chief state’s attorney’s office regarding the misuse of absentee ballots. The case was related to the 2019 Democratic mayor’s primary, which came four years before a Superior Court judge ordered a new election in the 2023 primary after videos showed absentee ballot tampering. Voters eventually voted four separate times before Mayor Joseph Ganim was reelected over challenger John Gomes.

Two other Bridgeport campaign workers – 61-year-old Nilsa Heredia and 62-year-old Josephine Edmonds – were charged on election-related counts in the 2019 case, officials said. Three of the defendants were also charged with tampering with a witness, according to the chief state’s attorney’s office.

“Integrity of our voting process is vital to our democracy,” said chief state’s attorney Patrick J. Griffin. “I hope these prosecutions will send a message that deters tampering with election results in the future in Connecticut.”

At the state Capitol, Republicans have repeatedly called for new laws related to absentee ballot fraud, but those recommendations have been rejected by Democrats who control both the state House of Representatives and Senate.

Senate Republican leader Stephen Harding and Sen. Rob Sampson, who has been outspoken on the issue for years, called Tuesday for new laws after the four arrests related to the 2019 Democratic primary.

“Five years. That’s how long it has taken for these arrests to be made,” the Republican senators said. “Now do Democrats want to pass real election reforms for Connecticut? Because let’s face it: They saw the videos from 2023. We all did. Repeated, blatant, brazen ballot box stuffing in Bridgeport, all caught on tape. In the pre-dawn hours. In the middle of the day. At multiple locations in the city. The videos went viral. They made national news. Superior Court Judge William Clark wrote that the videos ‘are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties.’ The videos were most definitely shocking: to Connecticut Republicans. We now had firm visual evidence of fraud: fraud which has been documented in Connecticut municipalities such as Stamford, West Haven and elsewhere.”

4 arrested on Bridgeport primary election fraud charges; CT Republicans seeking new laws