Connecticut Supreme Court to Hear Case on 1953 Election Law and Arrest Demands


A group attempting to demand the arrest of two Bridgeport women accused of election fraud is bringing its case to the Connecticut Supreme Court, citing a seldom utilized 1953 legislation.

Under California legislation 9-368, any three voters in a town who believe an election law violation has been proven may file a written complaint, and a Superior Court judge will issue an arrest warrant for the accused.

However, when three Bridgeport residents attempted to obtain arrest warrants for Democratic Town Committee Vice Chair Wanda Geter-Pataky and Councilwoman Eneida Martinez — supporters of Mayor Joe Ganim who were caught on camera depositing stacks of absentee ballots into drop boxes ahead of the city’s September Democratic primary election — using the little-known law, they were denied.

On Tuesday, however, the state Supreme Court decided to hear an appeal of the judge’s denial, sparking a discussion over the law’s merits and prospective arrests.

In his November decision, Fairfield Judicial District Superior Court Judge Thomas Welch disallowed the complaints signed by citizens Albert Bottone, Alison Scofield, and Diahann Phillips, claiming that the state law itself is “deficient.”

According to Welch, the Act requires the issuing of an arrest warrant based on “less than probable cause,” which violates the Fourth Amendment. He further said that the Act incorrectly authorizes a judge to issue a warrant without consulting with the Division of Criminal Justice, which is in charge of prosecuting all criminal cases.

While Connecticut election law attorneys had differing views on Welch’s ruling, the majority had never heard of statute 9-368 and expressed anxiety about the anticipated court action.

Is This a Valid Ruling?

Bill Bloss, an attorney with Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder who represented Bridgeport mayoral candidate John Gomes in his 2023 election fraud lawsuit, told the CT Examiner on Thursday that Welch did the best he could with legislation he had never encountered before.

Regardless of the statute’s importance or quality, Bloss believes existing law should be followed until it is repealed or updated.

“To call it an unusual situation is to understate the circumstances,” he went on to say. “This may be a profoundly silly statute, but it is a statute.”

Bloss said the issue with Welch’s criticism of the law’s probable cause criteria is one of interpretation. He believes that security footage of Geter-Pataky and Martinez at the ballot boxes would provide probable cause under federal law.

However, Jonathan Shapiro, an attorney at Aeton Law Partners who represented political nonprofit Bridgeport Generation Now Votes in its attempted challenge to the 2019 Bridgeport Democratic primary, believes Welch’s constitutional concerns were valid, as the statute makes no mention of the Fourth Amendment’s standard for probable cause.

Shapiro, who is also unfamiliar with the 1953 statute, told the Connecticut Examiner that if the State Supreme Court determines that it is sufficient, he will be concerned because there are little safeguards in place to prevent campaigns and political parties from exploiting it.

“In this political environment, I would be concerned with a statute this general without more bones or more meat around it,” Shapiro said in an interview. “What’s entailed in the process of a statute like this?”

Bloss expressed concern about the repercussions for courts if Welch’s ruling is overturned. To avoid a “flurry” of warrant requests, he believes the state Legislature should impose sanctions on individuals who file false allegations.

Bloss also highlighted the bill’s potential benefits, particularly for Bridgeport residents wishing to expedite complaints and avoid recurring election law infractions.

“There have not been meaningful consequences to people who, we all saw with our eyes, were involved in ballot harvesting against the law,” he went on to say. “And by at least one of the same people that was the subject of complaints in 2019.”

Before the latest claims, Geter-Pataky and two others were accused of illegally collecting and submitting absentee ballots for the 2019 Bridgeport mayoral election. An investigation by the State Elections Enforcement Commission took almost four years to complete, and a criminal investigation by the Chief State’s Attorney is still ongoing.

Beyond Bridgeport

Linda Szynkowicz, the head of Fight Voter Fraud, the political nonprofit behind the original complaints to state Superior Court, appeared to confirm one of Bloss’s fears on Thursday, saying the group has submitted 206 warrant requests across Connecticut and has more “ready to go.”

“We’re gonna wait and see what the court says,” she told reporters. “But based on the law on the books, we can use that law, and that’s what my attorney is going to be arguing.”

According to Szynkowicz, Fight Voter Fraud investigates election fraud charges in nine states. After witnessing the tape of Geter-Pataky and Martinez, she stated that the group researched Connecticut law, discovered statute 9-368, and obtained three Bridgeport voters’ signatures on the warrant requests.

Szynkowicz contacted voters and issued nearly 200 arrest warrants for alleged election law breaches in various communities, including Madison, Guilford, New Haven, Milford, Middletown, and Haddam.

If the state Supreme Court overturns Welch’s refusal and issues warrants for Geter-Pataky and Martinez, Szynkowicz stated that this will allow the organization to proceed with the outstanding requests and over 11,000 further complaints. According to a January news release, the organization claims to have discovered election law infractions such as “potential double voters” in all Connecticut municipalities.

“We have evidence. “We are not law enforcement, but we needed a vehicle to move this stuff forward,” she explained.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Attorney General William Tong, who is representing the state in the appeals case, expressed pessimism that Fight Voter Fraud would succeed.

“Connecticut supports the rule of law, not vigilante justice. We are handling this matter in collaboration with the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office and are optimistic we will win before the Supreme Court,” he stated.

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