Councilwoman In Bridgeport Accused Of Absentee Ballot Misconduct

Bridgeport City Councilwoman Maria Pereira is facing serious allegations related to the mishandling of absentee ballots during her 2023 primary election. The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) has issued a criminal referral, citing concerns about her conduct during the election process.

The referral stems from a complaint by Pereira’s primary opponent, Kevin Monks. Statements from residents of a low-income apartment complex suggest that Pereira collected absentee ballots from them and instructed them on how to vote. One resident claimed that Pereira took their ballot, directed their vote, and then mailed it herself. Another resident accused her of offering gifts and food to influence their vote.

Evidence includes handwritten notes allegedly from Pereira, found on absentee ballot materials. One note stated, “No one will ever know!” followed by a heart and her name. These actions reportedly helped Pereira secure a narrow victory through a late surge in absentee ballots.

Despite these allegations, Pereira has denied any wrongdoing, calling the referral politically motivated. She announced plans to sue the city, maintaining her innocence and confidence in the legal process.

This case is part of a broader pattern of election controversies in Bridgeport. Mayor Joe Ganim’s 2019 and 2023 primary wins also hinged on late-counted absentee ballots, which overturned initial results favoring his challengers. These elections have been plagued by accusations of fraud, leading to court-ordered new primaries.

Several of Ganim’s campaign members and city officials are currently facing charges related to absentee ballot fraud. The recurring issues have led to calls for stricter oversight and enforcement to ensure fair elections.

The Yankee Institute, a government watchdog, has expressed deep concern over these developments. They argue that the persistent problems in Bridgeport reflect systemic issues that undermine public trust in the electoral process. The organization stresses the need for robust reforms to safeguard election integrity.

As the SEEC continues its investigations, there is growing pressure on Connecticut’s authorities to address these issues comprehensively. Ensuring that elections are conducted fairly and transparently is essential to maintaining the public’s confidence in the democratic process.