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Democrat candidates now sue over election fraud while Republicans are called 'election deniers'

"Election denier" was up until recently code for "Republican." But now Democratic party members are filing suits alleging fraud. A Democratic mayoral candidate for Bridgeport, Conn., alleges that there was fraud with absentee ballots deposited at ballot drop boxes.

Published: October 12, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: October 13, 2023 6:30am

As a Democratic mayoral candidate’s case over an election challenge had its first hearing in court, he is one of a growing number of Democrats who have filed lawsuits or an affidavit over election irregularities. When Republicans have done this, they have been routinely dismissed as “election deniers.”

Since the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have raised concerns about election irregularities and are often called “election deniers” by Democrats and the media. However, Democrats largely do not receive the same label, despite their almost identical legal challenges in various jurisdictions.

John Gomes, Democratic mayoral candidate for Bridgeport, Conn., filed an election challenge over alleged absentee ballot abuse in his primary race last month against incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim.

Connecticut limits who can return a voter’s absentee ballot, and the lawsuit alleges that video footage of a ballot drop box appears to show multiple people depositing multiple absentee ballots into the receptacle, — called ballot harvesting — including a Ganim supporter.

Gomes lost to Ganim in last month’s election by 251 votes. Ganim lost the votes cast via machines but won with the margin in absentee ballots, of which 2,630 were cast in total. According to the lawsuit, Ganim received 694 more votes in absentee ballots than Gomes did.

Gomes’s lawsuit asks that he be declared the winner of the primary and placed on the ballot in November or that a new primary be scheduled.

Thursday was the first hearing in the case that could last two weeks. Connecticut Superior Court Judge William Clark is presiding over the case. Three witnesses testified on Thursday, one being a Bridgeport police captain who oversees the city’s surveillance cameras, another being an assistant town clerk, and the other being the Democratic Registrar of Voters.

The Bridgeport police department provided about 2,104 hours of surveillance video footage of the four ballot drop boxes in the city from Aug. 22 until Sept. 14. The police captain testified during the hearing that 12 hours of video footage were erased as officers copied the files for the lawyers and the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

The police are looking into the videos and sent them to the State Elections Enforcement Commission to investigate. The Connecticut governor, Ned Lamont (a Democrat) has said he wants investigators to "leave no stone unturned" looking into the claims of election fraud in Bridgeport but urged voters "not to jump to conclusions" about the video footage.

The assistant town clerk explained the process of counting absentee ballots and the Democratic Registrar of Voters testified that she was unaware that the town clerk is required by state law to sign the outer envelope of an absentee ballot when it’s received.

The next hearing for the case is set for Friday.

Meanwhile, other Democratic candidates have also alleged election fraud reminiscent of claims made by GOP candidates nationwide, and largely ridiculed by media operatives.

For example, last month in Mississippi, Hinds County District 2 Supervisor David Archie (D) claimed that Democratic Executive Committee Chair Jacqueline Amos was involved in fraud in the party primary election in August. Amos said that the primary was conducted “in keeping with applicable state law” and that Archie had “the right to challenge the results” of the election.

Archie filed a lawsuit last month against the Hinds County Democratic Party and others, calling for a new election. However, the Hinds County Circuit Court dismissed the lawsuit late last month, ruling that Archie had filed the lawsuit after the deadline for election challenges.

In Virginia, Makya Little, a Democratic primary candidate for the 19th District House of Delegates in Prince William county, filed a lawsuit against party leaders and state elections officials alleging that the June election was unfair because the party favored her opponent. She is seeking financial damages from the party and an injunction to prevent the state from printing ballots for the fall election until her case concludes.

Prince William elections officials assured the public that the election was fair, and the Prince William Democrats asked Little to resign from her position on the party’s Woodbridge Magisterial District Committee because of her actions following the election.

Last year, in Florida, former Orange County Commissioner candidate Cynthia Harris filed a sworn affidavit with the Florida Secretary of State's office alleging that illegal operations to collect third-party ballots have been going on for years in the Orlando area where voting activists are paid $10 for each ballot they collect.

Harris, who narrowly lost her election for county commissioner last year, mentioned her years-long knowledge of ballot harvesting in the black communities in central Florida. She even recorded a ballot broker coming to her home in 2017 to collect her ballot, and obtained the script that the vote harvester was given by her bosses to make the pitch for a voter to turn over their ballot.

Since Trump and other Republicans have raised concerns about election irregularities in the 2020 presidential election, they have frequently been labeled “election deniers.”

President Joe Biden last year denounced "extreme MAGA Republicans" and derided the "election deniers" who questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. 

Meanwhile, news outlets such as The Washington Post frequently published articles leading up to the midterm elections last year with headlines such as "Where Republican election deniers are on the ballot near you," as well as "trackers" monitoring the performance of what they calculated were the nearly 300 GOP candidates who fit their definition of election denier. 

Other media outlets — including TimeReuters, the Associated Press, and NBC News — routinely employ the slur "election denier" in their reporting, attributing the term specifically to any Republicans who questioned, challenged, contested, or denied the 2020 election outcome.

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