Two years ago when I was called to the Connecticut Supreme Court to stop the absentee ballot cheating in Bridgeport, I won the case and the battle, but overall was part of a lost war on fair elections and voting reform in Connecticut.

In 2016, Mario Testa and the Bridgeport Democratic Party got caught red-handed using on duty police officers to carry out its bidding “for the party.” Chief Armando Perez, the same man who unknowingly helped Mayor Ganim break the law on the eve of countless federal indictments in the early 2000s, reconvened his duties “for the party” to help Ganim and “the party” cheat the electoral process with absentee ballots.

Let’s be clear about one thing — if the Democratic Party in Connecticut truly cared about the voting process and increasing voter turnout, it would have long ago reformed the voting laws in Connecticut.

Although absentee ballot voting in theory should improve democracy, in Bridgeport, it has cast a dark cloud over the electoral process. The absentee ballot system, at least in Bridgeport, has been the way into elected office. Many elections, including Ganim vs. Moore 2019, have proven it doesn’t matter how many people vote at their local polling precinct, but how many “vote” by absentee ballot. For decades, there have been absentee ballot violations upon absentee ballot violations committed by the Bridgeport Democratic Party and its actors. Usually it’s just a lesson on what not to do next time and how not to get caught by officials (whom are also Democratic Party actors: the city registrar of voters and the secretary of the state).

With low voter turnout an obvious impediment to actual democracy, Bridgeport leads the way in Connecticut. The same political actors drag their feet in providing Connecticut residents a path towards open and fair elections because it suits their goals: power and political patronage.

Connecticut is losing residents and businesses, at least in part to the corrupt ways of the inner-city politics of the Democratic Party, which always goes through Bridgeport. The political leaders provide few progressive solutions and also help to give Connecticut its moniker of Corrupticut.

The children of Bridgeport and cities just like it across the state are left in the dust by the political exhaust, fueled in part by absentee ballot fraud.

Our children need consideration and guidance by better actors than the ones we have now. The path forward towards equity and progress goes through voting reform and changing the absentee ballot process.

Here are a few recommendations from a 2018 report, “Increasing Voter Participation in America” by The Center for American Progress, that would help push Connecticut forward driving voter participation and making the process of voting more convenient for eligible Americans:

automatic voter registration;

same-day voter registration;

preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds;

online voter registration;

make voting more convenient with in-person early voting (at least 14 days prior to Election Day);

restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated people; and

strengthen civics education in schools.

The time is now to reform Connecticut’s voting process.

Attorney Peter Finch practices law in his hometown of Bridgeport and is a registered Democrat.