Vote 2023: Second ballot box video leaked in Bridgeport mayor's race
A second leaked video of absentee ballot boxes has surfaced in the disputed race for Bridgeport mayor.
But does it show any wrongdoing? That depends on which side you ask.
The latest video was posted Tuesday morning by political blogger Kevin Rennie.
It appears to show a woman – wearing a "John Gomes for Mayor" shirt – dropping off absentee ballots four different times at the same drop box. The video also shows a white car dropping off at least three different people to the same box. The edited footage does not include time stamps indicating when it was taken.
Rennie would not reveal who supplied him the footage, but said it came from city-owned surveillance cameras.
"These things are just games they're trying to play," Gomes said Tuesday.
Gomes confirmed that everyone in the video works with his campaign. But Gomes said all of them told him they were casting ballots for relatives, which is legal in Connecticut.
"We've interviewed and talked to them, and they're willing to put a signed affidavit – sworn statement – of what they've done," said Gomes. "But more importantly, they'll supply names of who they dropped it for."
FIRST BALLOT BOX VIDEO
Propelled by a surge in absentee ballots, Mayor Joe Ganim defeated Gomes by 251 votes in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary. Gomes is suing to overturn the results, after another video appeared to show a Ganim supporter stuffing stacks of ballots into a drop box.
Ganim has denied knowledge of the incident.
"I'm appalled by it. There's no place in my campaign," he told News 12's "Power and Politics" on Sept. 22.
Ganim's campaign issued this statement on Tuesday:
"We can clearly see from these videos that there are serious irregularities by my opponent's campaign. This hypocrisy undermines their legal claims in court. What's important today is that there be no double standard for right and wrong. My opponent professes integrity in our elections; however their actions and behavior continue to say something entirely different. You cannot have videos of your campaign workers stuffing ballot boxes and then complain about ballot irregularities when you lose. Lastly, as we move toward the November 7th General election, I continue to ask for additional monitors, supervised ballots and any other appropriate measures to ensure the integrity of the general election results."
Gomes' attorney, Bill Bloss, fired back.
"If anyone mishandled absentee ballots in Bridgeport they should face consequences. That includes any instances of supporters of the Gomes campaign, but any such isolated instances pale in comparison to what we have seen by Ganim supporters on the videos," he said. "We will present that evidence in court."
Both sides will square off in court next Thursday. Gomes is asking a judge to declare him the winner, or order a whole new primary. Evidence will include more than 2,000 hours of ballot box surveillance video.
Gomes claims the footage shows even more instances of stuffed ballot boxes.
"And they're not dropping one in the box, or for a family member," he said Tuesday. "The action shows packs and packs being stuffed in the ballot box."
Judge William Clark has ordered
Bridgeport Police to turn over all their investigative files to lawyers, but those files will be sealed from the public.
Police are also investigating how both videos were leaked.
"The detective bureau has assigned a case officer," said Bridgeport Emergency Management Director Scott Appleby.
Testimony begins on Oct. 12 – less than a month before the general election – and is expected to stretch into the following week.
MORE BALLOT BOX RULES?
Republicans said the latest video proves that outdoor ballot drop boxes aren't secure.
"So now we see even more video of what appears to be dubious and repeated absentee ballot box dumping involving multiple people?" said state Senate GOP leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford). "This confirms our suspicion that this is not isolated to one person or one campaign, but is widespread systemic ballot fraud. What will it take for Connecticut Democrats to act and fix our broken election system? What more do they need to see?"
On Tuesday, Gov. Ned Lamont signed a new law sending an election monitor to Bridgeport through the end of 2024.
"They can demand to see, at any point, any record, any facility, any system," said state Rep. Matt Blumenthal (D-Stamford), co-chair of the Legislature's Government Administration and Elections Committee.
But Democrats said it's too early to make sweeping ballot box changes, which could make it harder for people to vote.
"Do you take a wrecking ball approach and ban everything for everybody else?" asked House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford). "Or do you try to use a – more of a scalpel approach?"
Also shot down last week was a GOP amendment requiring a 1-year prison sentence for election crimes. But Democratic leaders said they're open to the idea next year.
"I think that's another conversation we can have," said state Rep. Jason Rojas (D-East Hartford), the House Majority Leader. "I don't know that we should have it without the benefit of a public hearing."