Editorial, Bridgeport Part 1: What NOT to do

The election integrity story in Connecticut lately has been the Bridgeport Primary where Marilyn Moore won the primary for mayor in the polling places and Joe Ganim won the absentee votes by enough to win by a comfortable margin of 270 votes, with an absentee margin of 3 to 1. You can read our Recent News links on our home page for more of the details. Bridgeport is known for absentee problems and a high energy absentee operation, mostly by party insiders who in this case support Ganim the incumbent. Yet the extent of this year’s operation seems to be even greater than usual. Neither campaign is looking very professional at this point.

The questions are: 1) To what extent has this operation resulted in lots of illegal absentee ballots? 2) To what extent did illegal activities change the result? 3) Should there be a rerun of the primary? 4) What should/can be done to prevent this from happening again in Bridgeport or anywhere in Connecticut? 5) What should not be done – what would not help?

Here are my short answers to the first three questions, we will address what not to do today and what we could do, later in part 2.

  1. We will likely never know how many absentee ballots were issued illegally, how many votes were not completed by voters, and how many voters were intimidated. It is hard work to investigate each absentee vote and harder to prove if a particular vote was illegal.
  2. We will likely never know. There were illegal activities on both sides, yet clearly more on the Ganim side. Yet, maybe they actually won by legal active absentee promotion.
  3. Courts are very reluctant to call for rerun elections.  They are not only costly but bring out a different set of voters, a compressed time for legitimate absentee votes, less time for the election, and a change in voters because other races are not on the ballot.  Its a bit easier in municipal races where the actual election day could be conceivably be postponed as well as requiring additional an additional primary. One standard is proving that enough votes were compromised that the result could have changed. Another standard is any skulduggery or errors. Both are too stringent in our opinion, if you agree then it is a judgement call somewhere in the middle. My decision in this case would be for a rerun with strong, independent monitoring. Perhaps a creative solution, considering reality in Bridgeport would be a separate Mayoral ballot in November with Moore and Ganim with equal positions on the ballot.  Many courts would disagree. In this case, I suspect many would agree to a rerun.

Two things NOT to do:

Remember the 1st law of holes: “When you are in a hole, stop digging!”

Bad Idea #1: It has been suggested, even by the Secretary of the State, that what we need is more absentee voting, no-excuse absentee voting.  That would seem to be almost obviously the wrong thing to do, if you want to reduce absentee abuses. In fact, violating the current law requiring a valid excuse is one of the several frequent abuses in the recent primary. It would be like reducing illegal speeding by doubling the speed limit. There are many states claiming no significant increase in fraud when they went to no-excuse absentee voting.  We are skeptical of those claims, yet even if they are true, they are not Connecticut where we have a steady stream of  proven absentee fraud – including recent fraud in Bridgeport(last two primaries), Hartford, and Stamford. I have said it before, and I will say it again: We justified the Citizens Election Program because of a history of campaign finance problems, similarly we can and should ustify not expanding absenting voting because of a Connecticut record of ongoing of fraud. For more see or testimony in opposition in 2017:

Bad Idea #2: There was a proposal in the last General Assembly to let voters submit absentee ballot applications online, without signatures S.B. 156. One of the key ways fraudulent absentee ballots are created is by fraudulent applications, where voters attest to their excuse. On of the key ways fraud is discovered and proven is hand-writing analysis of those applications. A huge mistake. For more read my testimony against the bill: Would Remove Valuable Fraud Detection/Prosecution Tool.

Perhaps we will hear several more ideas for digging the hole deeper before this is over.

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