BRIDGEPORT – Two videos making their way around social media appear to show Bridgeport political operatives engaging in absentee ballot fraud in the days leading up to the September 12 Democratic Primary.

One video appears to show Democratic Town Committee (DTC) 1st Vice Chair, Wanda Geter Pataky stuffing bundles of envelopes into the Absentee Ballot Drop Box located outside of the Margaret Morton Government Center located at 999 Broad Street. She also appears to direct a man from inside the Government Center to take a handful of envelopes and put them in the dropbox as she holds the door open for him. State law makes clear that “only the voter’s immediate family member or caregiver may assist the voter,” and instructs campaigns that no one should take possession of a ballot or deliver a completed ballot. Wanda Geter-Pataky is a strong supporter of Mayor Joe Ganim.

The second video is of councilwoman Maria Pereira from the 138th district. In that video Pereira appears to be going through someone’s mail, allegedly looking for an elderly woman’s absentee ballot. Pereira is quoted in the CT Post saying she “did absolutely nothing wrong” and “that she went to look for the ballot because the elderly woman lost it. She didn’t find the ballot and left.” The problem with that is that she shouldn’t have been looking for the ballot in the first place. State law clearly prohibits candidates and political operatives from handling absentee ballots. Maria Pereira endorsed John Gomes for mayor and is running for re-election as part of his slate of candidates.

It’s 2019 all over again.

In August, Hearst media reported that three people tied to Joe Ganim’s 2019 mayoral campaign were recommended in June by the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) for possible criminal charges. Wanda Geter-Pataky, being one of them, is also a city employee and the DTC District Leader for the 136th district. The 2019 SEEC investigation that took nearly 4 years to complete came after Hearst Media reported that Bridgeport absentee voting was rife with irregularities  and separate complaints were filed by Marilyn Moore’s 2019 mayoral campaign and by Bridgeport Generation Now Votes.

In light of the recommended criminal charges and the behavior documented in both videos, Bridgeport Generation Now Votes and our Unrig Bridgeport coalition are calling for the following meaningful actions: 

  1. Connecticut’s state Democratic party chairwoman, Nancy DiNardo, and Governor Ned Lamont to publicly denounce the generations-long voter suppression tactics employed by Bridgeport’s local Democratic party under the leadership of Mario Testa.  
  2. As we did in a letter from August 2021, when the charges against former City Council member Michael DeFillippo were announced, we demand that Nancy DiNardo and the Democratic State Central Committee immediately call for the resignations of Mario Testa and Wanda Geter-Pataky from their leadership roles on Bridgeport’s Democratic Town Committee. 
  3. We call upon the Chief State’s Attorney to immediately bring criminal charges against Wanda Geter-Pataky and Alfredo Castillo for their roles in the absentee ballot abuse that took place in 2019. 
  4. Finally, just as Secretary Merrill did in 2019, given the seriousness of the behavior caught on video, Secretary of State Thomas must support a timely and thorough SEEC investigation into Bridgeport’s 2023 Democratic primary election.   

We will send this as an official letter to the Democratic State Central Committee, constitutional officers, legislative leadership, and the Co-Chairs of the GAE Committee. It is time that the party that nationally works to protect voting rights and ballot access stand with the Democratic voters of Bridgeport. Failure to do so simply feeds into Trump’s “Big Lie.” This coercive, fraudulent election rigging behavior has destroyed our local democracy and robbed the people of Bridgeport of their civil rights, especially our most vulnerable populations – our low-income, disabled, elderly, and monolingual Spanish speaking voters.

Bridgeport Generation Now Votes and the Unrig Bridgeport coalition are serious about fixing our broken democracy and protecting voting rights. Ensuring clean and fair elections is a key pillar in The People’s Platform. Additionally, as a condition of receiving Unrig’s endorsement our candidates had to take an oath not to abuse the absentee voting process and were warned that if we discover that they in fact engaged in any unlawful activity regarding absentee ballots, we will publicly pull our endorsement. The oath stipulates:

During the 2023 Municipal Elections, my campaign and I will not abuse the absentee ballot process or engage in illegal activity related to absentee ballots.

  • I promise my campaign has not – and will not – pay people exclusively to circulate absentee ballot applications.
  • I promise my campaign will not lie to voters, forge voters signatures, or forge their absentee ballot applications.
  • I promise my campaign will always educate voters on the proper and legal way to vote using an absentee ballot.
  • I promise my campaign will not touch or take voters’ ballots.  

Sadly, absentee ballot abuse, fraud and manipulation is not new behavior in Bridgeport. Our work on this issue began in 2017 and speaks for itself. Here’s a timeline of our advocacy and organizing efforts to protect democracy, expand access to the ballot, and end absentee ballot abuse in Bridgeport.




  • Sent then Secretary of State Denise Merrill a letter advocating that she use her power as Connecticut’s chief election official to end absentee ballot abuse in Bridgeport and expand supervised absentee voting in senior living facilities.
  • Launched the End Absentee Ballot Abuse Petition on detailing the history of absentee ballot abuse in Bridgeport and a long list of violations that date back to 1988 and gathered over 2,000 signatures both online and at community events.
  • Delivered the petitions in-person to the office of the Secretary of the State.
  • Produced a short documentary titled “Let’s End Absentee Ballot Abuse” that documents how Bridgeport voters feel about being harassed and targeted.
  • Organized a 5-day canvass of Bridgeport voters who had voted using ABs in the 2019 Democratic primary and spoke with and interviewed over 50 absentee ballot voters, uncovering at least 30 patterns of behaviors by campaign workers, city officials, and Line A candidates that qualify as abusing voters and the absentee ballot process. 
  • Helped 3 voters who felt aggrieved by what they experienced, and by what we witnessed, to take their grievances to court. We helped the voters file a historic lawsuit, “Ganim v. Lazar,” the first of its kind in Connecticut, seeking a new Democratic primary election.   
  • Presented evidence at trial that confirmed that political operatives were manipulating and targeting voters through the absentee ballot process, all for the purpose of controlling their votes. While we weren’t successful in getting a new election because of an incredibly high burden of proof, Judge Stevens did say that the suit uncovered “serious election law violations”, indicating that the ABs laws were being exploited and directing the legislature to take action on key electoral reforms. 


  • Took our cause to the state legislature to fight for the following reforms: an independent Election Monitor for the city of Bridgeport, early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, the Connecticut Voting Rights Act, and strict restrictions on political operatives from engaging in the AB process.
  • Fought for safe voting during COVID, including the expansion of absentee voting to anyone concerned about the pandemic and the implementation of the secure ballot drop boxes.


  • Launched the Unrig Bridgeport campaign and coalition, dedicated to fixing Bridgeport’s democracy.
  • Fought for and won an independent Election Monitor for Bridgeport, who reports directly to the Sec. of State and oversaw our local elections for 2 years.
  • Produced and released “Bridgeport Corruption: How It Works And How We Can Fix It” animation.
  • Brought Dr. Mary Frances Berry, civil rights activist and author of “Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich: Vote Buying and the Corruption of Democracy,” to The Klein.
  • In coalition, wrote and released the first version of The People’s Platform, a 30-point policy plan built on 4 key pillars: Justice & Equity, Pro-Democracy, Anti-Corruption, and Good Government.
  • Endorsed 7 candidates for City Council and Board of Education who pledged to The People’s Platform, and 6 out of 7 of the “Unrig” candidates won.



  • In coalition, passed the Connecticut Voting Rights Act and a constitutional amendment ballot referendum for no-excuse absentee voting, which will be on our ballots in 2024. 
  • Secured funding for Bridgeport’s Election Monitor for 2 more years, working on getting the bill language passed.
  • Wrote and released the 2nd version of The People’s Platform, which states corruption is what is holding Bridgeport back from being the city we all know is possible. 
  • Mailed 19,000 Democratic primary voters a letter in English and Spanish explaining the rules and laws governing absentee ballots, as well as an absentee ballot application and prepaid envelope. 
  • Endorsed 5 candidates for City Council in the Democratic primary who pledged to The People’s Platform and all 5 “Unrig” candidates won!