Democrat party official and 3 others charged in Connecticut absentee ballot case

Democrat party official and 3 others charged in Connecticut absentee ballot case

Democrat party official and 3 others charged in Connecticut absentee ballot case

A Democratic Party official involved in a voting scandal that caused a judge to order a rerun of last year's mayoral election in Connecticut's largest city was arrested Tuesday and has been charged along with a city council member and two campaign workers with mishandling absentee ballots during a different election in 2019.

Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee Vice Chairperson Wanda Geter-Pataky, City Council Member Alfredo Castillo and the two campaign workers were each charged with unlawful possession of absentee ballots and other violations of elections law.

All four are accused of manipulating the absentee ballot system during the city’s 2019 Democratic primary, in which the incumbent mayor backed by the town committee, Joe Ganim, defeated state Sen. Marilyn Moore by just 270 votes.

Prosecutors said some of the defendants misled voters about eligibility requirements for absentee ballots, told people which candidates to vote for, were improperly present when ballots were filled out and violated rules for handling both absentee ballot applications and the ballots themselves.

“I hope these prosecutions will send a message that deters tampering with election results in the future in Connecticut,” Chief State’s Attorney Patrick J. Griffin said in a written statement.

Geter-Pataky and the two workers, Nilsa Heredia and Josephine Edmonds, were also charged with tampering with a witness during the investigation. Prosecutors didn't immediately say which candidates each of the four defendants supported.

While the charges relate to the 2019 race, Geter-Pataky was a key player in another episode involving absentee ballots that upended the 2023 mayoral contest.

A judge ordered a new election in the race between Ganim and John Gomes after surveillance videos surfaced showing people stuffing multiple absentee ballots into outdoor collection boxes during the Democratic primary. Gomes contended that one of those people stuffing the boxes was Geter-Pataky.

During a court hearing in October, Geter-Pataky exercised her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to answer questions.

The videos helped fuel skepticism about the security of U.S. elections, including the 2020 presidential election.