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JASON SNEAD: This Voting Scandal Should Have Alarm Bells Ringing For Election Integrity Supporters Everywhere

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Jason Snead Executive Director, Honest Elections Project Action
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As millions of Americans headed to the polls this week, Connecticut’s largest city was embroiled in an election fraud scandal. Just one week before the November election, a Connecticut judge overturned the results of Bridgeport’s Democratic mayoral primary and ordered a new election. The damning 37-page ruling details “unprecedented” volumes of evidence showing partisan operatives for the incumbent mayor illegally stuffing “stacks” of ballots into city drop boxes. So many ballots were mishandled that the results were in doubt.

The drama in Bridgeport is a national wakeup call. For years, Democrats and their activist allies have dishonestly claimed that election fraud does not exist so they can justify a national push for irresponsible mail voting policies, insecure drop boxes, limitless vote trafficking, and bans on voter ID. The left claims that lax election laws help voters, but all they really do is make voting messy and insecure. The residents of Bridgeport are witnessing that firsthand. (RELATED: JASON SNEAD: Don’t Listen To Dem Hysteria)

In September’s mayoral primary, incumbent Democrat Joe Ganim narrowly won after a strong showing in the absentee vote. His opponent, John Gomes, challenged the results, alleging widespread illegal ballot collection—known as vote trafficking—by individuals working for the mayor. Connecticut law states that only a voter himself or certain designees, such as a family member or a caregiver, can return a mail ballot. Organized vote collection by political operatives is illegal.

But according to the judge’s ruling, surveillance cameras at each of the city’s drop boxes show two individuals—apparently city employee Wanda Geter-Pataky, vice-chair of the Democratic Town Committee, and city council candidate Eneida Martinez—approaching unstaffed drop boxes and depositing ballots. Both repeatedly asserted their privilege against self-incrimination, but that didn’t stop the judge from finding that the pair made 15 drops between them. At one point, Geter-Pataky was seen dropping off “three stacks” of ballots.

The ruling paints a picture of an experienced and pre-planned vote trafficking operation. And indeed, Geter-Pataky is already facing potential criminal charges for mishandling ballots in Ganim’s 2019 mayoral primary. Per the ruling, Geter-Patacky was gathering applications to vote by mail months ahead of Election Day. She personally returned 347 applications—without properly registering to do so. According to the opinion, Bridgeport’s town clerk neither verifies whether voters are actually eligible to vote by mail nor validates the signatures on mail ballot applications. Unsurprisingly, “nearly all” of Geter-Patacky’s applications “listed ‘sickness’ as the reason for the inability to vote in person—often weeks or even months later—on September 12.”

When it came time to drop the ballots off, Geter-Pataky took full advantage of the fact that drop boxes were unstaffed and accessible outside business hours, making numerous pre-dawn trips to deposit votes. Other times, the traffickers handed off ballots for delivery.

In the end, the traffickers mishandled so many votes that the results of the election were thrown into doubt. The judge ordered a new primary, which will now be held given that Ganim won re-election—again, per the CT Mirror, on the strength of his absentee turnout.

What are the lessons to be learned from Bridgeport? At a minimum, states need to revisit lax drop box laws. The left campaigns fiercely against any attempt to regulate and secure drop boxes, but video surveillance alone is not enough. In Bridgeport, cameras were rolling for 21 days and caught every instance of illegal trafficking, but could not stop it in real time. If drop boxes are going be used at all, they should be secured inside government buildings, staffed, and be physically inaccessible outside business hours. There is no legitimate reason to be dropping off ballots in the dead of night.

If drop boxes are locked down, might traffickers use mailboxes instead? Perhaps. But while a drop box full of ballots is evidence of high voter turnout, a mailbox stuffed with ballots is a red flag, and in Paterson, New Jersey in 2020 that very flag exposed pervasive mail ballot fraud that invalidated a city election. (RELATED: RONNA MCDANIEL: Want To Win In 2024? Vote Early)

More broadly, Bridgeport is a reminder that election integrity can never be taken for granted. States shouldn’t wait for their own scandal. They should act now to secure the voting process and prevent this type of fraud from discrediting future elections. Many states, like Georgia, Ohio, Texas, and others have made great strides in election integrity, but there is always more work to do.

The left dishonestly claims that voter fraud never occurs, then uses that claim to justify irresponsible voting laws and a campaign of lawsuits meant to gut popular voting safeguards. From all-mail elections, to insecure drop boxes, to widespread vote trafficking, the left’s agenda doesn’t make it easier to vote. It just makes it easier to cheat.

Jason Snead is the Executive Director of Honest Elections Project Action.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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