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Yes, Elections DO Have Consequences

By State Senator Rob Sampson.

The views stated here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of this newspaper. Received December 14, 2023.

(December 14, 2023)—The quote “elections have consequences” made famous by former President Barack Obama has taken on new meaning in the wake of the Bridgeport ballot-stuffing scandal. Partisan politicians seem to enjoy repeating this popular catchphrase whenever they get a political “win” by imposing their agenda, or electing their preferred candidates, or as a warning to anyone that dare challenge the latest triumphs—good or bad for the rest of us.

I wonder if Connecticut’s legislative Democrats, reveling in their huge majorities, now see the irony in this statement, as their own destructive election policies have resulted in the now nationally documented case of ballot fraud exposed during Bridgeport’s recent Democrat mayoral primary.

I have offered literally dozens of bills and amendments to prevent the flagrant abuse that we saw with our own eyes in Bridgeport, thanks to a ballot drop box security camera—which was in place no thanks to state law, and only came to light due to a “leak” from the Bridgeport Police Department.

Each time I have made the case, I could not have been clearer. The goal is for every eligible voter to have access to a ballot to have their voice heard and to simultaneously secure the integrity of our elections so that every voter regardless of the place, time, or party affiliation trusts in the results.

Rather than heeding my warnings or working cooperatively with me to secure our elections, legislative Democrats repeatedly dismissed, or even mocked, my logical and clearly much-needed recommendations. Some even implied that my goal of maintaining election integrity or security amounted to race-based voter suppression.

The September security camera footage that captured a Bridgeport city employee stuffing dozens of absentee ballots in a drop box was undeniable. So undeniable, in fact, that a state superior court judge ruled in November that there must be a new Democrat mayoral primary because the “shocking” footage prevented authorities from determining the “legitimate result” of the original primary election.

It appears that corrupt elections also have consequences. How many eligible Bridgeport Democrat voters had their ballot effectively nullified by the deluge of likely fraudulent ballots? How many of their voices were silenced?

How many other elections across the state have been impacted by bad actors exploiting bad election laws? Do we really think this is an isolated incident?

While I believe in due process, reasonable people across Connecticut did not need two months to figure this one out. However, our Governor did. His position, and that of some other legislative Democrats, has evolved each day.

At first, we were told that the video might not be real—even though local authorities never disputed the video’s authenticity.

Of course, the only reason it was caught was thanks to “leaked” footage. Buried in the details of this debacle is that Connecticut Democrats in the legislature have voted down my proposed amendments for mandatory ballot drop box surveillance cameras since their inception in 2020.

So, how intent are those state Democrats to fix the wrongs in Bridgeport to restore public confidence in all of our state’s elections?

After the legislature approved funding for a Bridgeport “election monitor” in September, a bare minimum and sadly inconsequential gesture—and the party line rejection of all five of my proposed amendments to bring real security to our elections—the Secretary of the State quietly filled the position a mere days before the Nov. 7 elections, and only days after I publicly questioned her inaction on the matter.

Now that the national press has chimed in, the pressure seems to be on.“You cannot ignore what has happened, and so we’ll have to look at it,” House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) said in early November.

Even Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, whose primary campaign was at the heart of this controversy, is now on record opposing drop boxes. “…I’d get rid of them,” he said prior to Election Day.

Most importantly, Connecticut’s elected Democrats who created the enormous gaps in our election security and continue to refuse reasonable statewide measures to secure our elections must be held accountable. If we are going to make progress and ultimately fix this, it will require a powerful and consistent appeal from the public to demand action in the next legislative session and/or the 2024 election.

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