Judge William Clark just made a huge step forward in reassuring voters of the sanctity of our elections by throwing out a fixed Bridgeport Democratic mayoral primary and ordering a new one. His ruling will not only resonate in Connecticut, but throughout the country as it has made national news.
First a brief recap. Democratic challenger John Gomes had a significant lead in the September 10th primary of 3173 votes to 2644 votes until the absentee ballots rolled in. These ballots broke overwhelmingly for incumbent Joe Ganim 1545 votes to 779 votes giving him a 251-vote victory. But videotaped evidence revealed that two Democratic operatives, Wanda Geter-Pataky and Eneida Martinez, made multiple runs to the voting drop boxes with stacks of absentee ballots. Under Connecticut law, absentee ballots are supposed to either be mailed or placed into a drop box by the individual voter or his or her caretaker.
Gomes challenged the result in court. Both Geter-Pataky and Martinez pleaded the Fifth and cynical observers (myself included) believed Judge Clark would roll over and allow this blatant fraud to continue.
After all, this is what happened in 2019 Bridgeport Democratic mayoral primary when absentee ballots pushed Ganim over the finish line against State Senator Marilyn Moore. A court challenge to this election failed even though over 1,000 absentee ballots had been cast but only 32 voters had requested them – a clear violation of Connecticut election law.
Yet in this instance, Judge Barry Stevens allowed the fraud to go unpunished stating “In summary, the plaintiffs were successful in identifying very serious election law violations, but the heat of this evidence is not hot enough to vacate the entire primary in the manner they sought.”
But in this case, the courageous Judge Clark followed the law. His ruling delves in great detail into the nuances of Connecticut voting law, especially with respect to the handling of absentee ballots. He noted that while only 420 used the drop box in question, there were over 1,200 absentee ballots deposited there. Obviously, some individuals had deposited multiple extra ballots. He concludes:
“Quite simply the defendants ask this court to ignore the significant mishandling of ballots by partisans who were caught on videotape flouting the mandatory provision of Connecticut law. To do so would undermine the clear intention of the statutes which specifically prohibit such ballot contact and would endorse the blatant practice of ballot harvesting. It would also endorse the illegal conduct engaged by these partisan actors and the improper counting of invalid votes.”
He further adds: “These videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all parties.”
Judge Clark further notes that while he can invalidate the primary, he can not invalidate the general election in Bridgeport. Gomes is on the ballot as a third-party candidate and there is a Republican candidate also. Should Gomes win, no repeat primary will be necessary. But should Ganim or the Republican win (highly unlikely), there will be another primary followed by another general election.
This case is being appealed to the Connecticut Supreme court and Judge Clark could be overruled but given the courage and cogency of his opinion, this should not occur.
Some cynics may argue that Judge Clark was forced by the videotape evidence to make this ruling, but this is not true. He could have easily taken the politically expedient path and allowed this election to stand and suffered no consequences. The liberal Connecticut media would have ignored the rubber-stamping of blatant fraud as they have in the past. A few gadflies like myself, Chris Powell and Don Pesci would have inveighed against it to no avail.
This ruling makes it much easier to criminally prosecute Geter-Pataky and Martinez and perhaps result in jail time for their assault on our democracy. Even Mayor Joe Ganim now believes that drop boxes should be disallowed.
But the real ramifications of this ruling are national. The harvesting of absentee ballots in swing states has led many Republicans to question the validity of the 2020 presidential election. It even led to an assault on our Capitol. Now every drop box in a swing state in the 2024 presidential election will be surrounded multiple video cameras. Those who harvest ballots illegally will now know they will be caught thus increasing the chance of a Republican victory.
Judge Clark, who was appointed by Democratic Governor Ned Lamont, surely knows this. Which makes the courage of this man even more impressive.