Election Fraud? What Election Fraud?
Election Fraud? What Election Fraud?
Let’s face it. The 2018 mid-term elections will go down in the history books. People became engaged in the system this mid-term and exercised their right to vote. The bad news is that there were so many issues with the process, including allegations of voter fraud, that it makes the hanging chad controversy of the 2000 election seem minor. Now we have the latest in a long line of fraud allegations, this time coming straight from Los Angeles.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the scheme targeted the homeless on skid row. The homeless were approached and asked to “forge signatures on state ballot measure petitions and voter registration forms.” In return, they were given “$1 — or sometimes a cigarette.” That’s a pretty small price to pay to undermine one of the primary cornerstones of our nation’s foundation.
Nine people have been charged with felonies in this scheme. It is alleged they paid for”false and forged signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms.” Kirkland Kauzava Washington, Harold Bennett and Louis Thomas Wise each face approximately six years in prison if convicted. Also charged were Richard Howard, Rose Makeda Sweeney, Christopher Joseph Williams, Jakara Fati Mardis, Norman Hall, and Nickey Demelvin Huntley. They face more than four years in prison if convicted.
What we must remember is that this wasn’t an isolated instance. According to the DA’s Office, “there were hundreds of solicitations for false or forged signatures.”
Hundreds of solicitations for false or forged signatures.
Worse, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said these alleged violations took place not only during the 2018 mid-term election cycle but also during the 2016 election.
But never fear, state officials assure us they don’t believe the scheme was wide-spread. There are further reassurances that local staff would have identified the fraudulent signatures. The problem? The assurances are hollow, especially in light of the fact the charges filed by the DA’s Office include allegations going back to the 2016 election. It should be simple enough for the DA’s Office or the election officials to point out how they caught at least one of the forged signatures. But they didn’t. Instead they said the signatures “would have been identified by staff.”
That’s not very reassuring on so many levels.
The first question we must ask is simple. Why did it take so long to file charges for actions that took place two years, or more, ago?
According to the Los Angeles Times,” [t]he charges, which were filed three weeks ago but made public Tuesday, followed a Los Angeles Police Department crackdown on suspected election fraud on skid row earlier in the year.” And that brings us to our second question. Why did the DA’s Office wait three weeks to announce that charges had been filed? Was it to give the police time to locate the defendants and arrest them? Or was it to keep the news from breaking before the election? LA County residents should ask their district attorney that and more.
Oh, but wait. A little digging–very little digging–shows the news of the investigation and arrests broke in September.
Now, an LAPD crackdown this year on suspected election fraud on skid row has yielded eight felony arrests, including three last week, booking records show.
Arrests in May were bumped down to misdemeanor violations. The district attorney is still deciding how to charge the recent cases.”
While it isn’t illegal in California to pay people to go out and find signatures for petitions, etc., it is illegal to pay people for their signatures. However, it is obvious at least some lawmakers saw the potential for abuse in the current system. A bill “banning per-signature payment for petition circulators” made its way to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk in September. What did Governor Moonbeam do? He vetoed it, proclaiming the law might “enhance ballot control by ‘the wealthiest interests’.”
I guess the potential for voter fraud doesn’t outweigh the paranoia that the evil capitalists might just ruin his vision of a beautiful socialist paradise in California.
Officer Deon Joseph, the senior lead officer on skid row, said it best. The payment for forged signatures on petitions and voter registrations is “an assault on our democracy.” As voters, we must demand our elected officials and law enforcement protect and preserve the sanctity of the ballot box. If they fail to do so, it is time for them to be removed from office. We can exercise our right to vote and our ability to demand recalls if necessary. Let’s hope California, especially LA County voters, remember that.
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Featured image via UC Berkley Advanced Media Institute.