A group of Bridgeport residents filed a lawsuit this morning to have individuals accused of fraudulently delivering documents to absentee ballot drop boxes used in the city’s mayoral Democratic primary arrested.
Diahann Phillips, Alison Scofield, and Albert Bottone are using their status as Bridgeport electors and an obscure state statute to have the state’s superior court issue arrest warrants for Wanda Geter-Pataky and Eneida Martinez over their alleged roles in ballot fraud in Bridgeport’s Democratic mayoral primary between John Gomes and Joe Ganim.
The criminal complaints for both Geter-Pataky and Martinez cite Connecticut General Statute 9-368, which states: “Upon the written complaint of any three electors of a town in which a violation of any law relating to elections has occurred to any judge of the superior court for the judicial district within which the offense has been committed, supported by oath or affirmation that the complainants have good reason to believe and do believe that the allegations therein contained are true and can be proved, such judge shall issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused.” There is no recorded official use of the statute, which first went into effect in 1953.
The complaint against Martinez, also a Democratic candidate for Bridgeport City Council, further cites state statutes governing how absentee ballots can be cast in elections. Per section 9-140b(a) of state statute, absentee ballots can only be cast if they are mailed or returned to a town clerk by the ballot applicant, an applicant’s designee if they are ill or disabled, or a member of a student’s immediate family. For the purposes of the statute, “mailed” can mean either delivered through the United States Postal Service or deposited in a designated ballot drop box.
The complaint alleges that Martinez did not register as an absentee ballot distributor during the 2023 election cycle.
Both Martinez and Geter-Pataky were identified by video surveillance footage, initially posted to Facebook by the Gomes campaign, delivering documents to absentee ballot dropboxes. During the recent trial in which Gomes’ lawyers successfully sought to have the results of the primary, which Ganim won, challenged, both Martinez and Geter-Pataky invoked the Fifth Amendment when questioned over whether the videos in question depicted them and why they were handling other people’s ballots.
That trial resulted in an order for a new primary between Gomes and Ganim, with presiding judge William Clark calling the video evidence presented during the trial “shocking.”
The criminal complaint against Martinez lists five counts of illegally returning absentee ballots in violation of state law. It alleges Martinez “did knowingly and willfully commit a Class D felony” by illegally depositing a total of at least twenty-seven absentee ballots in drop boxes between August 29 and September 6. All five counts presented against Martinez are for Class D felonies.
The criminal complaint calling for Geter-Pataky’s arrest lists seventeen counts, including four counts of illegally returning an absentee ballot, five counts of conspiracy to commit an illegal return of absentee ballots, and eight counts of illegal possession of absentee ballots.
Like Martinez, Geter-Pataky is charged with not having registered as an absentee ballot distributor for the 2023 election cycle. The complaint also cites Geter-Pataky’s testimony during the trial that she works for the city of Bridgeport as a greeter where one of the city’s designated drop boxes was located. “Thus, she has intimate knowledge of the area, including where the Drop Box is located and how it is monitored.” the complaint states.
Geter-Pataky also confirmed during the trial that the city placed her on administrative leave until the conclusion of the city’s investigation into the absentee ballot allegations.
The complaint charges Geter-Pataky illegally deposited 12 sets of absentee ballots. The conspiracy to commit illegal returns of an absentee ballot charges also allege Geter-Pataky accompanied a man who placed absentee ballots in ballot drop boxes and handed absentee ballots to various people from her desk while working as a greeter for the city. In total, Geter-Pataky is charged with illegally possessing at least 16 sets of absentee ballots. All counts against her are for Class D felonies.
Cameron Atkinson, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney, is pursuing the suit on behalf of Fight Voter Fraud, Inc., a Connecticut-based “non-profit, non-partisan” group created in 2018 to “advocate on behalf of all disenfranchised voters, regardless of party affiliation.”
“Elections are the backbone of our state and country. When someone commits election fraud, they cheat all of us. At that point, it is no longer a Democrat or Republican issue. It is a Connecticut issue.” said Atkinson. “The City of Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut seem more interested in targeting the people who exposed the shocking election fraud than prosecuting the people responsible for committing it. The world is now watching. We call on the Connecticut General Assembly to pass a bill appointing a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute everyone involved in the fraud committed on the people of Bridgeport.”
Atkinson told Inside Investigator, Fight Voter Fraud, Inc.’s founder Linda Szynkowicz reached out to him when the Bridgeport absentee ballot case broke and asked if there was anything that could be done about it. Atkinson said Linda Szynkowicz has spent the last two to three years doing research into voter fraud and voter integrity but hadn’t wanted to engage in a partisan effort and hadn’t had any hard evidence of voter fraud.
With the Bridgeport case, that changed. He stated that the reaction of the Bridgeport police department was to investigate who in city government leaked the video, not to investigate the people “stuffing the ballot box.”
Atkinson’s research led him to the obscure statute allowing electors to call on a judge to issue an arrest warrant in cases of election law violations. The option to get private arrest warrants without needing to go to the police was appealing.
Then, according to Atkinson, once the decision in the Gomes’ trial came down, he told Szynkowicz that at that point they weren’t “pursuing any hare-brained Trump-esque schemes for overturning elections on conspiracy theories.” The statute, they decided, was their best shot.
According to Atkinson, there could be several outcomes to the lawsuit’s filing. The clerk could refuse the filing, which would result in it being brought before either the state supreme court or an appellate court. Or, the clerk could accept the suit and the presiding judge could refuse to sign it, which would require an order from an appellate court for probable cause, potentially resulting in the case going before the state supreme court.
Atkinson noted that when he first walked into the clerk’s office to learn about filing the case the clerk told him to go to the police department. He expects that either the clerk will refuse to accept the complaints or the judge will refuse to sign them.
In the case of the latter, Atkinson will go to the appellate court to get an order requiring the complaints to be signed. He thinks the appellate court would issue this order because at that stage it “wouldn’t be talking about a judge who made a recent decision that there’s no probable cause to sign the warrant. We’ll be talking about refusing to even look at it. I think the statute is so clear they have to.”
As to why the electors who have signed onto the suit have gotten involved, Atkinson said he thinks everyone saw what happened in Bridgeport and felt a collective sense of betrayal and outrage, inspiring the “need to do something” for themselves because “the powers that be aren’t going to do that.” That lesson, Atkinson says, has been driven home really hard in Bridgeport.