State election officials to consider Bridgeport ballot probe

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The State Elections Enforcement Commission plans to hold a special meeting Monday to decide whether to investigate allegations of absentee ballot irregularities in Bridgeport’s recent Democratic primary for mayor.

The planned meeting comes after Hearst Connecticut Media reported widespread problems with the Sept. 10 primary, ranging from absentee ballots submitted by people not registered as Democrats to ineligible felons casting absentee ballots.

Some absentee voters told Hearst reporters they had been pressured into voting for incumbent Joe Ganim, who narrowly defeated state Sen. Marilyn Moore. While Ganim lost at the polls to Moore, he was able to ultimately win the primary with a majority of absentee ballots and a final margin of 270 votes out of more than 100,000 votes cast.

Moore, who is continuing her campaign as a write-in candidate, has called for a probe into possible voter fraud.

“I cannot stand aside and let the voters of Bridgeport be silenced,” Moore said in a written statement Sept. 12.

Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Friday she believed the issues raised by Hearst merited an investigation by the commission.

“Although my office does not have authority to investigate allegations, we stand ready to assist SEEC in any way we can,” she said in a written statement. “I intend to use the full authority granted to my office to ensure that free and fair elections are held in Bridgeport, and across Connecticut, on November 5th.”

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano of North Haven has criticized Merrill for not acting sooner.

Unlike Merrill’s office, the elections enforcement commission can impose fines in election cases. Commission officials tell the Hartford Courant they decided to hold Monday’s meeting based on a referral from Merrill’s office.

Ganim has called for the ballots to be “supervised” in the upcoming November general election. He said in a written statement that he supports Merrill’s request for a review of any irregularities.

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