Bridgeport Councilwoman Faces Charges Over Absentee Ballot Mishandling

Bridgeport City Councilwoman Maria Pereira is under fire for alleged absentee ballot fraud in her 2023 primary election. The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) issued a criminal referral based on complaints from her opponent, Kevin Monks, and testimonies from residents in a targeted low-income apartment complex.

Pereira reportedly collected and filled out absentee ballots herself, guiding residents on how to vote and then taking their ballots to mail. Some residents accused her of bribing them with gifts and food. Handwritten notes purportedly from Pereira, including one stating, “No one will ever know!” have surfaced as evidence of her misconduct.

Pereira’s re-election bid was initially trailing until a surge in absentee ballots secured her victory, raising suspicions. Despite the criminal referral, Pereira has dismissed the allegations as politically motivated and plans to file a lawsuit against the city.

This incident adds to Bridgeport’s history of controversial elections. Mayor Joe Ganim’s 2019 and 2023 primary victories also relied heavily on absentee ballots, which were counted late and overturned initial results favoring his opponents. Both elections were fraught with allegations of fraud, leading to a judge ordering a new primary in 2023.

Several of Ganim’s campaign members and other city officials have faced charges for their roles in mishandling absentee ballots. The repeated issues have prompted calls for stricter oversight and enforcement to ensure election integrity.

The Yankee Institute, a government watchdog organization, has highlighted the broader implications of these recurring problems, stressing the need for fair and transparent elections. They argue that persistent absentee ballot fraud undermines public trust and calls for urgent reforms to safeguard the electoral process.

The SEEC continues to investigate and refer cases for potential prosecution, aiming to restore confidence in Connecticut’s election system. As scrutiny intensifies, the importance of maintaining electoral integrity remains paramount to ensure the democratic process is respected and upheld.