Mayoral candidate Minnie Gonzalez claims illiterate voters were taken advantage of by the Perez campaign in the recent election
By DANIEL D'AMBROSIO, Hartford Advocate Staff Writer
December 06, 2007
Mayoral candidate Minnie Gonzalez's campaign manager, who is also her husband, has filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, alleging poll workers around the city manipulated illiterate voters there who support Gonzalez into voting instead for incumbent Mayor Eddie Perez. Perez won reelection with about 6,500 votes. Ramon Arroyo included five affidavits with his complaint from voters who said they were the victims of tactics that allegedly included telling those who wanted to vote for Gonzalez to fill in the circles by Perez's name, or filling in the ballot for them with a vote for Perez rather than Gonzalez.
"These violations have undoubtedly affected the results of Hartford's Mayoral Election," wrote Arroyo in a Nov. 16 letter to Jeffery Garfield, executive director of the election commission.
In her affidavit, Luz Santiago said that on Nov. 6 she went with her parents and daughter to Sands Elementary School to vote for Minnie Gonzalez. "My mother does not know how [to] read or write," wrote Santiago. "I wanted to first cast my vote and then help my mother with her ballot, but the election official told me that I could not assist my parents in the voting process."
Santiago then alleges the election official "told my mother to fill out the circles on the ballot where Eddie Perez's name was," despite the fact that her mother said she wanted to vote for Gonzalez.
Arroyo's complaint has been assigned to an investigator, who will submit a report with his findings on the facts to the commission. Then it's up to the commission to decide whether to dismiss the complaint or impose a penalty, which could include a fine of up to $2,000 per violation.
Gonzalez said last week she is not being a sore loser. "I know you're not going to win all the time," said Gonzalez. "I'm used to that. But not like this. Something was going on all over the city."
The Gonzalez campaign was denied an official presence in the polling places to monitor the voting, according to Gonzalez, but received a last-minute phone call on the Monday before the election from Democratic Registrar Shirley Surgeon offering an unofficial presence. By then it was too late, according to Gonzalez. Surgeon did not return a call for comment. Neither did Perez's campaign manager, Kenny Curran. Perez spokeswoman Sarah Barr said it wouldn't be appropriate for the mayor's office to comment.
Gonzalez said she's not optimistic about the complaint's chances. "I don't think those complaints are going anywhere," she said. "What is the use to have an election if we're not going to have a clean process?"