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  • The Independent

    Four Connecticut Dems are charged after video showed them stuffing a ballot box and triggering a new mayoral election

    By Kelly Rissman,

    2024-06-11

    Four campaign workers in Connecticut were charged with misuse of absentee ballots years after their involvement in the 2019 Bridgeport Democratic mayoral primary scandal.

    The charges were announced on Tuesday against Bridgeport City Councilman Alfredo Castillo, 52, vice chair of the city’s Democratic Party leader Wanda Geter-Pataky, 67, as well as two 2019 campaign workers, Nilsa Heredia, 61, who worked for the city’s mayor Mayor Joe Ganim and Josephine Edmonds, 62, who worked for a Ganim primary rival Marilyn Moore. All four were accused of Unlawful Possession of Absentee Ballots and they individually face other charges.

    The group initially faced accusations of mishandling absentee ballots in the mayoral primary race in September 2019, investigators say. The incumbent mayor Joe Ganim eked out a narrow victory in the primary race, defeating John Gomes by just 251 votes.

    Gomes then sued, alleging absentee ballot mishandling and supplying video footage showcasing Geter-Pataky, a member of the Democratic Town Committee, repeatedly dropping absentee ballots into drop boxes or handing them to others, who then did the same.

    The judge sided with Gomes, finding that the evidence was so damning that it necessitated a redo primary election.

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    “The volume of ballots so mishandled is such that it calls the result of the primary election into serious doubt and leaves the court unable to determine the legitimate result of the primary,” the superior court judge wrote in November 2023.

    The allegations of the 2019 absentee ballot mishandling prompted the Secretary of State’s office to send a letter of referral to the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

    The commission then opened a civil investigation resulting in a vote to refer evidence of criminal conduct to the Division of Criminal Justice on June 7, 2023, which was accepted by the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, according to investigators.

    “Integrity of our voting process is vital to our democracy,” Chief State’s Attorney Griffin said. “I appreciate the attention and time the Statewide Prosecution Bureau put into these investigations. I hope these prosecutions will send a message that deters tampering with election results in the future in Connecticut.”

    The individuals also face other election-related charges. Some were charged with tampering With a Witness, Misrepresenting Eligibility Requirements for Voting by Absentee Ballot, Failure to Maintain an Absentee Ballot Distribution List, and others.

    All four were released on promises to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court on June 24.

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