As a reminder, mail-in ballots became much more controversial after the 2020 General Election because many states moved to mass mail-in ballots because of COVID-19. During that election, drop boxes funded by the Zuckerberg-Chan Foundation were installed, focusing on swing states. Ballot stuffing was the subject of True the Vote's "2000 Mules" documentary. True the Vote used cell phone geolocation data and drop box surveillance video to allegedly prove illegal ballot trafficking and ballot stuffing at multiple locations in Georgia. To this day, many believe mass mail-in ballots are not problematic despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
Mayor's Campaign Allegedly Caught on Camera with Ballot Stuffing Drop Boxes
On Nov. 1, 2023, Superior Court Judge William Clark in Bridgeport, Connecticut, threw out the results of the Sept. 12, 2023, Democratic Mayoral Primary Election and asked for a new election because of ballot stuffing. He writes in his ruling, "The volume of ballots so mishandled is such that it calls the result of the primary election into serious doubt and leaves the court unable to determine the legitimate result of the primary," adding that the videos "are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties." Wanda Geter-Pataky and Eneida Martinez are allegedly filmed stuffing ballot boxes. Geter-Pataky is Vice Chair of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee and operations specialist for Bridgeport. Martinez is a former City Council member.
After incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim initially won, the Gomes campaign "obtained the surveillance video, sued city officials and demanded a new primary," according to NBC Connecticut, which did not "independently verify the video." Gomes was a former aide to Ganim. Ganim accused Gomes of "sour grapes" over his loss, calling him a "disgruntled loser." Ganim's margin of win was only 250 votes. Gomes accused the Ganim campaign of "targeting seniors and low-income voters" because of their penchant for voting by mail.
Of note, Ganim was convicted in 2003 in federal court on "16 counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, extortion, mail fraud, bribery, conspiracy, and filing false income tax returns," according to a press release from the DOJ archives. He was sentenced to "nine years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $150,000 fine for his conviction on corruption charges," the press release continues.
Connecticut law only allows the voter or the voter's chosen individuals to drop off ballots at a collection box. "A new primary must be ordered," the lawyers wrote, according to NBC Connecticut. Gomes is the city's former chief administrative officer and asserts the person featured in the video below is Geter-Pataky. The video was posted on the John Gomes for Mayor Facebook page.
In the second case involving mail-in ballots in Paterson, New Jersey, Council Speaker Alex Mendez "allegedly stole mail-in ballots" with the help of "his wife and two campaign supporters to rig the 2020 election." Mendez was first charged with election fraud in 2021. Mendez and his co-conspirators allegedly "stole mail-in ballots from residents' mailboxes, filled some out, and then tried to mail in fakes in an effort to win."
Council Speaker Indicted for Allegedly Attempting to Rig Election Using Mail-In Ballots in 2020
The charges include "conspiracy to commit election fraud, forgery, falsifying records and witness tampering." NBC New York first reported that "hundreds of Paterson ballots" were found "stuffed in a mailbox" back in 2020. Ironically, despite his active indictments, Mendez was still selected to serve as president of the City Council in Paterson on Jul. 2, 2023.
On Oct. 25, 2023, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced the election fraud charges against Mendez. Platkin accuses Mendez of "attempting to rig an election." Thomas Eicher, the Executive Director of the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, added Mendez allegedly "unlawfully collected ballots and tampered" with them. Mendez "then allegedly set about undermining our investigation into his and his campaign workers' unlawful activities. I'm grateful for the many additional months of work the investigative team invested in pursuing evidence of potential witness tampering. Their efforts uncovered more illegal conduct by these defendants, culminating in these new charges," Eicher continued.
Additionally, the press release explains that, in May 2020, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alerted the AG about the "hundreds of mail-in ballots" found in the "neighboring municipality of Haledon." Many hundreds more were found in a mailbox in Paterson "at a time when all voting was being conducted via vote-by-mail" due to COVID safety precautions.
The press release also states that in New Jersey, "a voter may give a completed ballot to a "bearer" who must complete bearer certification on the ballot envelope." However, state law does not permit a candidate to serve as a ballot bearer in the district in which he is a candidate. According to the AG, many ballots collected by the campaign "were not sealed by voters." And, when ballots were returned to Mendez headquarters, they were allegedly "examined" by campaign staffers to verify whether they were cast for Mendez. Mendez's wife, Yohanny Mendez, "allegedly would destroy the ballot and replace it with another mail-in ballot that did select Mendez for the council seat."
Other allegations include blank ballots that were "stolen out of voters' mailboxes" to be "used as replacement ballots," campaign workers who completed incomplete ballots that were turned in, and the emptying of a "large, heavy bag, completely filled with ballots" being emptied into a Haledon postal box before the election with Mendez observing "from his wife's vehicle."
Oddly, a week later, Mendez's attorney "filed a letter with the Passaic County Board of Elections, urging the board to count the Haledon ballots, even though Mendez knew they had been unlawfully collected and submitted to the county. State law mandates that "a person serving as a ballot bearer can only do so for a maximum of three ballots each, or five if the individual is bearing ballots of immediate family members in the same household." After his indictment on Feb. 24, 2021, Mendez, his wife, and others were also caught on audio attempting to tamper with witnesses they contacted to provide statements that might be favorable to the defense.
The suspects are charged as follows: