Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is expected to be the first witness called to the stand Tuesday as the Superior Court hearing challenging his victory in the recent Democratic primary continues.
Attorney William Bloss, who represents Ganim’s challenger John Gomes, has been coy about what he plans to ask Ganim about the absentee ballot scandal at the center of the challenge to overturn the election, saying only “There’s a series of questions that I want to ask the mayor that are relevant to our case.”
John Kennelly, one of the attorneys representing city employees, has said calling the mayor to testify is just a “political stunt” that will have no bearing on the legal issues at the heart of the case.
At a recent press conference outside the courtroom, Kennelly acknowledged there may have been some “bad actors” in the primary, but he said nothing rises to overturning Ganim’s victory.
“Did any irregularity occur? Possibly,” Kennelly said. “But that doesn’t mean you tell thousands and thousands of people your votes don’t count.”
Ganim defeated Gomes by a total of 251 votes. Ganim received 694 more votes on absentee ballots than Gomes did, according to the complaint.
Ganim has hired Bridgeport attorney Harold Rosnick to represent him. Rosnick did not return calls for comment Monday.
Bloss has not said whether he plans to show Ganim any of the 2,104 hours of surveillance video from the four drop boxes across the city.
On Friday, Bloss played a 19-minute compilation video that spliced together clips of several people placing ballots into drop boxes between Aug. 22 and Sept. 14.
The video evidence is the centerpiece of Gomes’ effort to overturn the results of the primary.
Video surveillance footage allegedly shows Democratic Town Committee Vice Chairman Wanda Geter-Pataky and former city councilwoman Eneida Martinez delivering documents to ballot drop boxes that were used in the lead-up to the Sept. 12 election.
Bloss spent 37 minutes questioning Wanda Geter-Pataky, who sat mostly silent on the witness stand as she watched video clips that apparently feature herself placing absentee ballots into a drop box.
Bloss asked questions regarding her role in distributing, collecting and depositing absentee ballots, and 71 times, Geter-Pataky’s attorney John Gulash asserted her privilege, even for simple questions such as where her desk is within City Hall.
Gulash also represents Martinez. For her, he invoked the Fifth Amendment 14 times.
Bloss is trying to convince Judge William Clark that the widespread issues with absentee ballots is enough to overturn Ganim’s win and order a new primary.
Even some of the attorneys representing city officials have acknowledged the existence of the videos makes this case unprecedented when it comes to election challenges.
“It says to me that, in this election, there may have been some bad actors involved. I’m not saying that didn’t happen,” Kennelly said recently at a press conference outside the courtroom.
“But it’s not the level to disenfranchise all the thousands of voters who did it right,” Kennelly said.
Bloss said they have isolated and counted every person who made a deposit into one of the boxes, and while he wouldn’t reveal the numbers, Bloss said, “there’s an overwhelming number of absentee ballots that were put into the drop box compared to the number of people on the video dropping them in.”
Bloss said that raises the question of whether some people illegally put multiple envelopes containing ballots into the drop boxes.
Bloss is expected to wrap up his case in the next few days. Clark has indicated he hopes the evidence portion of the hearing will be wrapped up by the end of this week.
Attorneys for the city have not indicated whether they will call witnesses. They have submitted exhibit lists that indicate they have snippets of video they could play that they have said show some of Gomes’ campaign workers doing the same thing as Geter-Pataky and Martinez.
The video footage that was showcased in court on Friday is also likely to be part of the ongoing investigations by the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which is responsible for policing the state’s election laws.
The SEEC opened several investigations into complaints that were filed following the primary election in Bridgeport. Those complaints included one about a leaked video clip, which allegedly depicts Geter-Pataky dropping ballots into a drop box outside the government center.