Another Democrat Under Scrutiny For Absentee Ballot Misconduct In Bridgeport

The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) has issued a criminal referral for Bridgeport City Councilwoman Maria Pereira, marking the latest development in a city already marred by allegations of election fraud. This referral is connected to the mishandling of absentee ballots during Pereira’s 2023 primary election.

Pereira, who seemed to be trailing on Primary Election Day until absentee ballots were counted, is accused of manipulating the absentee ballot process to secure her victory. Complaints from rival candidate Kevin Monks and statements from residents of a targeted low-income apartment complex allege that Pereira collected and filled out absentee ballots improperly.

One resident claimed Pereira collected their ballot, directed them on how to vote, and then took it to mail. Another resident accused Pereira of bribing seniors with gifts to influence their votes. Evidence presented includes handwritten notes on absentee ballot materials suggesting coercion, with one note stating, “No one will ever know!” followed by a heart and Pereira’s name.

Despite these serious allegations, Pereira has dismissed the referral as politically motivated and plans to sue the city. She was previously arrested for an altercation at a polling location last year, but charges were not pursued.

The SEEC’s investigation follows multiple similar cases in Bridgeport, a city plagued by controversial elections. In recent years, absentee ballots have played a decisive role in tight races, including the mayoral primaries where incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim’s victories were secured through late-counted absentee ballots.

Ganim’s 2019 and 2023 primary wins were both overturned due to irregularities, leading to a judge ordering a new primary in 2023. However, Ganim still prevailed in the subsequent election rounds. Several members of his campaign, along with other city officials, face charges related to absentee ballot fraud.

The Yankee Institute, a government watchdog group, has expressed concern over the recurring issues, labeling them as signs of “systemic rot” within Connecticut’s election processes. They stress the importance of ensuring fair and transparent elections to maintain public trust.

The SEEC continues to investigate and refer cases to the Chief State’s Attorney for potential prosecution. This ongoing scrutiny aims to uphold electoral integrity in Bridgeport and beyond, amid rising concerns about absentee ballot handling and election fairness.