It takes persistence, patience and a bit of luck to get into Elizabeth Hendricks’ apartment house in Bridgeport. Both the front and back doors of the tall brick building are locked. A sign inside the vestibule warns residents not to let people coming up behind them into the building. So it takes a while for me to work my way into the building. Eventually someone who listens to my broken Spanish takes pity on me or, perhaps, thinks I’m visiting someone who’s expecting me. So I’m allowed inside.
Between the two glass doors at the entrance there’s a security panel with a code connected to phone each apartment. I dial the two-digit code for Hendricks and listen to the phone ring and ring and ring. It never gets answered.
Hendricks is the voter who filed an affidavit claiming state Rep. Ezequiel Santiago showed up on her doorstep last Thursday asking if she was voting by absentee ballot. When Hendricks informed him that her vote in next Tuesday’s primary would be cast by absentee ballot, Santiago made her an offer. “He told me that he would take the ballot from me,” Hendricks says in a sworn statement, “to turn in if I hadn’t sent it already.”
Hendricks might be old but if her mind is still sharp, assuming her assessment of the situation is correct, this is an election law violation. The only people who can turn in absentee ballots are electors themselves, their legal guardian, or a caretaker such as a doctor or nurse who has an affidavit signed by the absentee voter.
So, knock-knock, Bridgeport voters, if a well-meaning stranger appears on your doorstep, promising to lighten your busy workload by allowing you to unload your absentee ballot on them for delivery, JUST SAY NO.