HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) voted Wednesday to formally launch an investigation into Bridgeport’s Democratic mayoral primary election after a video surfaced of a woman allegedly stuffing ballots into a drop box.
Members of the SEEC voted unanimously, 5-0, on three motions to look into potential ballot fraud. According to initial election results, incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim appeared to have received 51% of the votes, defeating his former aide John Gomes by 251 votes.
“These allegations have the effect of undermining the public’s trust in free and fair elections, and we take them very seriously,” SEEC Chairman Stephen Penny said.
The first motion was referred by the Bridgeport Police Department to look into the potential use, distribution and possession of absentee ballots found at an apartment complex.
The second motion involves the video shared by Democratic mayoral candidate John Gomes, which he claims shows a city employee stuffing absentee ballots into a drop box several times a week before the Sept. 12 primary. Gomes did not reveal how he got the video.
The third motion related to issuing a subpoena.
“We are going to ask that the subpoena be for all relevant documents with regards to the absentee ballots and that the commission anticipates taking possession and being the repository for such information,” SEEC Attorney William Smith said.
News 8 reached out to Ganim and Gomes Wednesday for comment on the commission’s investigation but has yet to hear back.
Earlier this week, both Democrats told News 8 they want to get to the bottom of the allegations.
“We want people to feel comfortable when they come out to vote and their votes count,” Ganim said.
“This is bigger than John Gomes for mayor,” Gomes said. “This is about the oppression of the people of Bridgeport.”
Connecticut Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, saw the video and said this can’t stand in Connecticut, calling it a threat to democracy.
“The concerns were always that the ballots weren’t properly secured and the integrity of the vote was not maintained, but now, for the first time, we have proof,” Kelly told News 8. “We need to make sure every person, one person, one vote rule is upheld and supported, and when you allow other people to cast more votes, well, what you are doing is suppressing that constitutional right.”
Penny said they will continue working with other law enforcement agencies to determine the facts and said those faces will be brought to light.
Earlier this week, News 8 learned a city employee had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Their name has not yet been released.