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Bridgeport’s Mayoral Race: Judge Orders Do-Over Primary Amid Ballot Controversy

In a plot twist worthy of a political thriller, a Connecticut judge has called for a do-over of Bridgeport’s Democratic mayoral primary, leaving locals in a state of anticipation. This decision, fueled by eyebrow-raising surveillance footage showcasing alleged ballot stuffing, has thrown a wrench into the gears of the city’s electoral process.

Just when Bridgeport voters were gearing up for the general election on Nov. 7, Superior Court Judge William Clark dropped a bombshell: the primary results were null and void, and a new race was on the horizon. This eyebrow-raising turn of events was sparked by unsettling videos that appeared to show individuals cramming piles of absentee ballots into collection boxes—a definite no-no under state law.

The ruling, arriving a mere six days before the general election, has set the stage for a curious scenario. Voters will cast their ballots in the mayoral election, only to be asked later to return to the polls and vote once again to determine the legitimate Democratic nominee.

In his ruling, Judge Clark pointed out the oddity of the situation but clarified that postponing the general election was beyond his power. His hands were tied, but the evidence of misconduct was too compelling to ignore. The primary, held on Sept. 12, saw incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim narrowly defeating challenger John Gomes. But with the “volume of ballots so mishandled,” as Clark put it, the true outcome remains a mystery.

The video evidence alone was enough to make the judge—and should make anyone, really—take a step back in disbelief. It’s not every day you see people shoving stacks of ballots as if they were stuffing a turkey.

What happens next is a bit up in the air. The judge has given lawyers a 10-day window to pow-wow with election officials and pick a new date for this unprecedented primary do-over. In the meantime, we’re left wondering if the city officials will challenge the decision.

Despite this legal limbo, the general election is marching forward. Ganim will stand as the Democratic nominee, with Gomes making an appearance as an independent. Two other candidates, Lamond Daniels and Republican David Herz, are also in the running.

Gomes, hailing from a stint as the city’s former chief administrative officer, hailed the judge’s decision as a win for the people and the integrity of Bridgeport’s democratic process. Ganim, on the other hand, has kept his eyes on the prize, rallying his supporters to turn out and keep the city’s progress on track. It’s worth noting that this isn’t Ganim’s first rodeo; he’s made a comeback after a corruption conviction and a stint in prison, and he’s vehemently denied any foul play in this election.

Under Connecticut law, the rules about dropping off ballots are pretty clear-cut, but the security footage has raised some serious questions. William Bloss, Gomes’ attorney, suggested an intriguing possibility: if Gomes wins the general election, the whole primary redo might become irrelevant. Meanwhile, the State Elections Enforcement Commission is digging into these allegations and other potential voting irregularities.

City officials and their legal team maintain that the footage doesn’t prove any illegality. They point out that no voter has come forward to complain about mishandled ballots. Yet, the videos tell a different story. One particularly controversial figure, identified by Gomes as Wanda Geter-Pataky, a known Ganim supporter, was seen on tape engaging in the suspicious ballot activity. When brought to court, Geter-Pataky chose to remain silent, invoking her Fifth Amendment right.

The controversy has reached far beyond Bridgeport’s borders, catching the attention of state Republicans and fueling discussions on election reforms, especially concerning absentee ballots. The Bridgeport ballot case has even made waves on national right-wing platforms, inadvertently intertwining with former President Donald Trump’s baseless stolen election claims.

As Bridgeport awaits its next steps, voters are left pondering the integrity of their electoral system and the unforeseen drama of their mayoral race.