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Arrests in Bridgeport ballot fraud case from 2019 election : NPR

Wanda Geter-Pataky (center) talks with her lawyer, John Gulash (right), during October 2023 testimony in a challenge of absentee ballots in the 2023 Bridgeport, Conn., mayoral Democratic primary. Geter-Pataky was among four people charged Tuesday in relation to the city’s 2019 mayoral primary.

Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP/Pool

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Brian A. Pounds/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP/Pool

Four people involved with a mayoral contest in Connecticut’s largest city were charged Tuesday for allegedly misusing absentee ballots.

The state charges stem from the 2019 Democratic primary in Bridgeport — and are separate from allegations of misconduct in the 2023 mayoral contest in the city, which led to a judge ordering a unique do-over primary.

Those charged are Wanda Geter-Pataky, a Democratic official in Bridgeport; and Alfredo Castillo, a city councilor; along with Nilsa Heredia and Josephine Edmonds. Their charges include unlawful possession of absentee ballots.

“I hope these prosecutions will send a message that deters tampering with election results in the future in Connecticut,” Patrick Griffin, Connecticut’s chief state’s attorney, said in a statement announcing the charges.

While the 2019 case was being investigated, “allegations of election misconduct surfaced again in Bridgeport, this time garnering national attention,” as Connecticut Public Radio reports, of the 2023 contest. After surveillance video emerged that appeared to show Geter-Pataky and others improperly depositing ballots into drop boxes, a judge concluded the original 2023 primary was “seriously undermined” and ordered a new election.

None of the four defendants in the 2019 case responded to requests for comment from various Connecticut media outlets.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, a Democrat, ultimately was reelected in both the 2019 and 2023 elections. In 2003 he was convicted on federal corruption charges, during an earlier stint as mayor.

Republican state lawmakers have used the recent election scandals in Bridgeport to call for broad voting measures in the Democratic-led state. Proven instances of election fraud are rare in U.S. elections.

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