• Connecticut SOTS Thomas Announces New Referrals to State Elections Enforcement Commission In Bridgeport Election Do-Over

    She also referenced two bills she supports, including one which could lead to a complete state takeover of a municipality's election

    Secretary of the State, Stephanie Thomas; Public Domain.

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    Connecticut Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas released information today regarding new referrals her office made to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) regarding the Bridgeport election redo that took place in February.

    Secretary Thomas revealed:

    • Reports from voters who received absentee ballots despite not requesting them;
    • A voter reported an individual arrived at his home to help him with his ballot, had him sign unknown paperwork, and took his ballot;
    • A report of a campaign offering cash in return for completed absentee ballots;
    • Suspicious activity at drop boxes discovered during review of footage from surveillance cameras.

    “When alerted, the Secretary of the State’s Office is required to send allegations of election malfeasance to SEEC for their review and decision to investigate if any laws were broken,” said Secretary Thomas. “Referrals are not proof of wrongdoing, but an important step to ensure that our elections are secure.”

    Government Administration and Elections Committee Ranking Members State Sen. Rob Sampson and State Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, Senate Republican Leader Stephen Harding, and House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora, issued statements in response to the Secretary of the State’s announcement.

    “The initial Bridgeport allegations were shocking enough, now there is a report of cash paid for absentee ballots,” Sampson and Mastrofrancesco said. “How many times do violations and fraud have to occur before the Democrat majority joins us in taking significant steps to deter bad actors from tampering with our elections? The penalties must be significant because our elections are too important to put in jeopardy. Right now, bad actors keep breaking our election laws because they have no fear of going to jail. Our laws need to have teeth so people will think twice before they engage in this activity. It is the only way to stop it.”

    Harding and Candelora added, “The latest report about allegations of election 'malfeasance' out of Bridgeport, described today by Secretary Thomas, is a devastating reminder that our state offers bad actors the capacity to manipulate the outcome of our elections without fear.

    “And why would they be afraid?  There's no real threat of jail time, a situation that must change. Ensuring that residents have confidence in the integrity of our elections is a core responsibility of what we do, and if Democrats aren't willing to lead on this issue right now by installing a mandatory penalty for criminal elections violations, they simply aren't listening to Connecticut residents who are demanding—and certainly deserve—this level of reform.”

    Additionally, Secretary Thomas referenced two bills that she believes would close loopholes in election monitoring.

    1. HB 5498, which includes: requiring the surveillance of absentee ballot drop boxes and retention of the footage; modifications for how absentee ballot data is recorded and reported; limiting who may apply for replacement absentee ballots; and reducing the window of availability of absentee ballot applications.
    2. SB 441, which would lead to the formation of a board to view and mitigate election administration issues that currently fall within the gap between the jurisdiction of the Office of the Secretary of the State and SEEC. The 17-member board would be granted the authority to mandate training, the implementation of best practices, and monitor an election when necessary.

    One of the eyebrow-raising aspects of SB 441 is that if a municipality has been referred to the board, and the case is found to have merit, the municipality would be subject to varying levels of oversight by the board. This could range from simply providing additional training and instruction for election officials all the way to a complete state takeover of a municipality's election, in which the Board would assume full election administration responsibility.

    Secretary Thomas plans on testifying in support of these bills at the Government Administration and Elections Committee’s public hearing on Monday, March 18, 2024, at 11:30 A.M. in Room 2B of the Legislative Office Building and via Zoom.

    You can sign up to deliver oral testimony by clicking here. The speaker registration deadline is Sunday, March 17, 2024, at 3:00 PM.

    You can submit online testimony by clicking here. Note that you have to choose March 18th for the hearing date, and then select "SB-00441 - AAC Election Administration Oversight" from the "bill" drop-down box.

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