Conservative activist Anne Manusky of Easton has filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission alleging absentee ballot applications mailed to Easton Democrats and unaffiliated voters prior to the November 2021 election violated state election laws.
Manusky is asking the state agency to investigate whether 606 absentee ballot applications the Easton Democratic Town Committee mailed to voters through the Fairfield-based 475 Consulting Group leading up to the November election were improperly filled out.
The Dec. 7 complaint alleges that 475 Consulting Group didn’t properly serialize the absentee ballot applications with numbers provided by Town Clerk Christine Halloran, and that the firm neglected to identify itself in the “assistor” section of the forms.
“The applications violated the spirit of the law,” said Manusky, the former treasurer of Citizens for Responsible Government. “I go by the rule of law.”
Manusky now heads the Connecticut Republican Assembly, which defines itself as the “Republican Wing of the Republican Party,” and has focused on the issue of voter fraud and campaigned against state mask mandates.
Before the November 2021 elections, Manusky had submitted testimony to Connecticut’s Administrations and Elections Committee on behalf of the Connecticut Republican Assembly in opposition to the proposed state resolution allowing for a constitutional amendment to permit no-excuse absentee voting.
Andrew Gausepohl, the founding partner of 475 Consulting Group, has denied any wrongdoing. “This is the Big Lie arriving in Easton and a continuation of the Republican’s attempts to spread misinformation and inject toxic national issues into local town politics that voters rejected back in November,”’ Gausepohl said.
He said Manusky’s claim that the applications were not properly serialized is false. “All the applications and recipients were registered with the Town Clerk in advance, and per additional guidance from the secretary of the state’s office the applications were given the text of ‘Easton -‘ then a mail sequence number by the mail house and printer Alpha Graphics,” Gausepohl said.
Secondly, Gausepohl said his firm did not identify itself as the “assistor” on the forms because his company did not fill out any portion of the applications. The secretary of the state’s office stipulates that if someone assists with filling out any portion of an absent ballot application they must sign the form as an “assistor.”
“We did not assist with the completion of applications and recipients received blank applications; we did not fill out section IV,” Gausepohl said.
Democratic Town Committee Chairman Nanette DeWester, who is named in Manusky’s complaint, issued a statement saying she respects the important work of the SEEC and its ongoing efforts to ensure election integrity, and the integrity of the Easton Town Clerk.
“The town clerk accepted our ballot applications without any issues raised. We are very confident in our consultant’s expertise and that they followed all the applicable laws,” she said in the statement. “We expect to be vindicated by the SEEC from this obviously, politically motivated complaint.”
Halloran told the Easton Courier she had no official comment on the complaint but confirmed that she has been in contact with the SEEC and has yet to see a ruling from the agency.
Manusky said she began collecting “material evidence” on the Democratic absentee ballot applications after reading an article written by Dominic Rapini, a Republican candidate for secretary of the state, in which he claimed there had been widespread absentee ballot request fraud in the state.
Manusky claims she investigated 10 percent of 606 absentee ballot applications mailed to Democrats and unaffiliated voters on behalf of Democratic candidates and First Selectman David Bindelglass’ campaign.
Bindelglass won a second term as first selectman in November, beating Republican challenger Jeffrey Parker. A town clerk document shows Parker’s campaign also mailed out absentee ballot applications in bulk to Republican voters prior to the election.
“I’m just bringing this to the attention of the commission because this happened in Easton,” Manusky said. “We want free and fair elections for all.”
Joshua Foley, an attorney with the State Elections Enforcement Commission, said complaints filed with the commission “shouldn’t be viewed as any indication of wrongdoing before the investigation is complete and the facts are determined by the commission.
“Complaints are docketed for investigation if the complaint alleges facts that, if proven true, would constitute a violation of election law. Sometimes a complaint results in the finding of a violation; sometimes it does not, ” Foley said.