Voter Fraud Convictions Challenge Narrative of Secure Elections
Voter Fraud Convictions Challenge Narrative of Secure Elections

By Steven Kovac

Superior Court Judge William Clark nullified the results of a Democrat mayoral primary in November 2023 and ordered a new election. The ruling was based on hours of video evidence showing hundreds of illegally harvested absentee ballots being stuffed into drop boxes in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

“The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties,” Judge Clark wrote in his ruling.

A California judge overturned the result in a 2021 Compton City Council run-off race that was initially decided by one vote. The judge tossed four fraudulent ballots cast by people not legally registered in the jurisdiction. Five people pleaded either guilty or no contest to conspiring to commit election fraud.

After discovering that 66 of the 84 absentee ballots cast in a 2021 Democrat primary for alderman in Aberdeen, Mississippi, were invalid and shouldn’t have been counted, a judge ordered a new runoff election. Police arrested a notary for notarizing ballots without watching voters sign them or checking their identification. The court also found evidence of intimidation at the polls involving candidate Nicholas Holliday, Mayor Maurice Howard, and Henry Randal, the town’s police chief.

The above examples of election fraud have occurred since the contentious 2020 presidential election that President Donald Trump alleged was marred with fraud.

Democrats, meanwhile, have cast the former president’s assertions about the 2020 election as the “big lie” and generally contend that election fraud is extremely rare and inconsequential.

In a June 2023 Congressional hearing, Rep. Joe Morelli (D-N.Y.) called Republican members’ attitudes about widespread voter fraud “cynical” and the series of election integrity hearings they were conducting in the House “tedious” and “redundant.”

Mr. Morelli said Republicans are fixated on an “unproven lack of integrity” that they claim exists.

However, an ongoing study by the Heritage Foundation details widespread instances of election fraud across the United States and shows that the illicit activity has resulted in election results being overturned in at least a dozen races.

In a number of cases, the abuse of the system is well-calculated and organized, but in most instances violations appear to have been committed by individuals acting independently.

Case studies show that some perpetrators exploit the aged, mentally infirm, and homeless in order to garner a few more votes for their preferred candidate.

Gwinnett County workers begin their ballot recount in Lawrenceville, Ga., on Nov. 13, 2020. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Heritage’s findings were bolstered by a Rasmussen Reports and Heartland Institute poll of 1,085 likely voters published in December 2023.

The poll found that 21 percent of those who voted by absentee or mail-in ballot in 2020 admitted to filling out a ballot “in part or in full” for someone else, which is illegal.

Of the 30 percent who said they voted by mail or absentee ballot in 2020, 19 percent said a friend or family member filled out their ballot, in part or in full, on their behalf. One-fifth said they signed a ballot or ballot envelope “on behalf of a friend or family member, with or without their permission,” the poll results state.

Seventeen percent of those who voted by mail in 2020 said they cast a ballot in a state where they’re no longer a permanent resident, which is illegal.

Among the 1,085 voters questioned, 8 percent said that a friend, family member, political party, or organization offered “to pay or reward them for voting in the 2020 election,” according to the poll.

Respondents were surveyed by telephone and online from Nov. 30 through Dec. 6, 2023. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus three percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.

“The results of this survey are nothing short of stunning,” said Justin Haskins of the Heartland Institute in a statement.

“For the past three years, Americans have repeatedly been told that the 2020 election was the most secure in history. But if this poll’s findings are reflective of reality, the exact opposite is true.”

Patrick Colbeck, a former Michigan state senator, an aerospace engineer, and a poll challenger, in Detroit, Mich., on Nov. 27, 2020. (Bowen Xiao/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Haskins blames election laws.

“A democratic Republic cannot survive if election laws allow voters to commit fraud easily,” he said.

He said despite some progress being made to eliminate election fraud in a number of states since 2020, “much more work is needed in most regions of the United States.”

In two separate polls, one conducted by the Washington Post/University of Maryland in late 2023 and another conducted by CNN earlier in the year, between 36 and 38 percent of Americans surveyed believe the election of President Joe Biden was illegitimate.

A Sampling

The Heritage Foundation says its election project consists of a “sampling” of election integrity issues and is by no means “comprehensive” or “exhaustive.”

The instances of election fraud cataloged by Heritage are confirmed cases that were investigated by law enforcement and referred to prosecutors. The subjects were indicted and either confessed in a plea deal or were convicted in the courts.

At least half a dozen of the cases documented by Heritage are still pending.

Sentences have varied from small fines and community service to hefty fines and years of incarceration.

Despite assurances that U.S. elections are safe and secure, the Heritage study chronicles nearly 1,500 “proven instances of election fraud” resulting in almost 1,300 criminal convictions going back two decades. 

A voter carries an election ballot to the voting machine at a polling station in Miami on Nov. 2, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Here, we highlight several cases that occurred in local, state, and federal primary and general elections by Democrats and Republicans.

The perpetrators included ordinary citizens, campaign workers, consultants, candidates, incumbent politicians, and active and former election officials.

One well-known case involved Domenick Demuro, a judge of elections for south Philadelphia, who is a known Democrat activist.

Mr. Demuro was prosecuted for accepting bribes ranging from between $300 to $5,000 per election to add votes to voting machines for certain Democrat candidates and then certifying the results, during the primary election cycles in 2014, 2015, and 2016. He pleaded guilty to depriving Philadelphia voters of their rights and violating the federal Hatch Act.

A 2022 case involved former Democrat U.S. Congressman Michael Myers who is a longtime, well-connected, political operative from Philadelphia. He was charged with conspiring with election judges, including Mr. Demuro, and bribing them to add votes to voting machines and stuff ballot boxes on behalf of Democrat candidates that he preferred or had represented as a political consultant. 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Pennsylvania elections.

Mr. Myers pleaded guilty to depriving persons of civil rights, bribery, falsification of voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election.

Kris Jurski, a cyber security expert and a founder of the Florida-based The People’s Audit, said he’s not confident with the administration of elections going into 2024.

“There have only been a few surface-level attempts to make the appearance of reforms, but the major problems that appeared in the 2020 election still exist,” he said.

“In 2020, we were pushed without consent and, in some cases without legislation, into universal mail-in ballots.”

Mr. Jurski was appointed to the state’s Committee for Voter Integrity at the Florida Republican Assembly in 2022.

“Mail-in ballots are where we see a majority of the abuse in our elections. For example, you can still request and submit a mail-in ballot without any proof of your identity and eligibility,” he said.

Mr. Jurski is an advocate of voting methods of the past.

“We have to go back to single-day elections with paper ballots and citizens hand-counting locally in their precincts,” he said.

“All we hear is ‘Trust us!’”

Officials Cheating

The result of a Paterson, New Jersey, city council election in May 2020 was overturned by a Superior Court judge because hundreds of absentee ballots—24 percent of them—were found to have signatures that did not match those on record. The judge ordered a new special election, which was held in November 2020.

Four individuals, including two running for city council, were charged with felonies. The charges against Shelim Khalique, the brother of a city councilman, have since been dropped and expunged, while the charges against Paterson council members Michael Jackson and Alex Mendez are moving toward possible trials, according to a local New Jersey news site.

Jason Schofield, a Republican elections commissioner, Rensselaer County Board of Elections in Troy, New York, used the State Board of Elections website to illegally obtain absentee ballots on behalf of other people without their knowledge during the 2021 primary and general elections. He pleaded guilty to 12 felony counts, resigned from his position, and his sentencing is set for May.

Poll workers check in a box of absentee ballots in the gym at Sun Prairie High School in Sun Prairie, Wis., on Nov. 3, 2020. (Andy Manis/Getty Images)

In Texas, Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown, a Democrat, pleaded guilty in 2021 to misdemeanor election fraud and record tampering in connection with the 2018 Gregg County Democrat primary. Mr. Brown and his wife Marlena Jackson were sentenced to one year of probation and a fine of $2,000 each. Mr. Brown continued to represent his district. He and his wife had initially been charged with dozens of felonies related to ballot harvesting.

In Michigan, Flint Township clerk and Flint County election supervisor, Kathy Funk, was charged with ballot tampering and misconduct of office during a local 2020 primary election in which she was a candidate. She won by 79 votes and “purposely broke a seal on a ballot container so that the votes inside, under Michigan Election Law, could not be counted in an anticipated recount,” according to the Michigan attorney general’s office.

To avoid a possible prison sentence, Ms. Funk pleaded no contest to one count of misconduct in office and she was fired from her county position in 2022. In April 2023, Ms. Funk was sentenced to 2 years probation, 6 months of house arrest, and $2,000 in fines.

Jerry Trabona, the former police chief of Amite City, Louisiana, and Kristian Hart, a city council member, worked together in a complicated vote-buying scheme where individuals were paid various small sums for their votes, and vote-buying agents were paid $20 for each vote they purchased in the 2016 elections.

Mr. Trabona pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit vote-buying. Mr. Hart pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit vote-buying and three counts of vote-buying and aiding and abetting. The crimes took place in 2016 and 2020. Both were sentenced in November 2022, with each receiving one year in prison, according to the Department of Justice. Mr. Trabona was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

In Hoboken, New Jersey, a man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to use the mail to promote a voter bribery scheme during a 2015 municipal election. William Rojas attempted to bribe voters with $50 to send in mail-in ballots to support a Hoboken City Council candidate.

In 2020, four Californians pleaded no contest to a scheme where they offered cigarettes and money to homeless people on Skid Row for fake signatures on voter registration forms and ballot initiative petitions. The plot netted hundreds of bogus ballots. The four were given penalties ranging from suspended sentences to probation.

Nancy Williams registered to vote 26 legally incapacitated residents under her care at a nursing care facility; then requested absentee ballots in their names, without their consent, and had them sent to her. In 2023, the Wayne County, Michigan, woman accepted a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to seven counts of receiving a payment to influence a vote. She was sentenced to one year of probation and fined $3,500. She faces similar charges in Oakland County.

Another employee at an assisted living facility in Michigan filled out 24 absentee ballot applications and forged residents’ signatures during the 2020 general election. Trenae Myesha Rainey pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of making a false statement on an absentee ballot application. She was sentenced to two years’ probation; the first 45 days of which were to be spent in the county jail.

Residents wait in line to vote early outside a polling station in Atlanta on Nov. 29, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Unusual Election Fraud Capers

A Pennsylvania man, a registered Republican, cast his ballot in person in the 2020 election. The man, Ralph Holloway Thurman, later returned to the polling place wearing a hat and sunglasses and voted again while pretending to be his deceased son, a registered Democrat. He was recognized by election workers, but had left before they could confront him. Mr. Thurman pleaded guilty to one felony count of repeat voting and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

In a scheme that prosecutors allege was funded by violent street gang MS-13, mayoral candidate Carlos Antonio De Montenegro was accused of submitting more than 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications on behalf of homeless people prior to the 2020 election, as well as falsifying names, addresses and signatures on nomination papers for him to run for mayor in Hawthorne, California.

Mr. Montenegro pleaded no contest to charges of false registration, registering non-existent voters, and perjury and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years of probation, and 30 days community labor.

To dissuade voters from voting by mail in 2020, two men ran a robocall scam that warned tens of thousands of voters not to do so. The reason—they falsely said it could lead to the government, law enforcement, and debt collectors obtaining their personal information. The bogus calls went out to people from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. 

The men, John “Jack” Burkman and Jacob Wahl, each pleaded guilty to one count of telecommunications fraud in exchange for the dismissal of all other charges. They were both sentenced to six months of house arrest and ordered to complete 500 hours of community service in a voter registration drive aimed at low and middle income individuals in the Washington D.C. area.

In 2020, a Nebraska man was found guilty by a jury and fined $10,000 after he voted against members of the Richland Village Board that he didn’t like. The man, Larry Divis, falsely claimed that he resided in the town even though he only owned property there.

People vote at a polling location at a church on Election Day in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 8, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Forgery and More

Some representative examples of election forgery, illegal ballot harvesting, ineligible felons voting, dead people voting, and people voting in more than one state are listed below.

In West Virginia, a man pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge for voting in two states in the 2020 election. Richard Fox voted by absentee ballot in both West Virginia and Florida. He was sentenced to one year probation and fined $1,000.

An elderly man in Wisconsin similarly voted in the New Hampshire general election in 2018 as well as cast an in-person vote in Massachusetts.

Seven North Carolinians pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges for their role in an elaborate illegal absentee ballot trafficking scheme to benefit Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris during the 2016 general and 2018 primary elections.

North Carolina’s elections board on Feb. 21, 2019, ordered a new election in the disputed race; which Mr. Harris ultimately lost. Mr. Harris, who denied knowledge of the scheme, is running for North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District seat in 2024.

In 2020, a Florida judge overturned the result of a close election for Eatonville town council that was ultimately decided by one vote. The court threw out one absentee ballot that was not cast by the actual voter and one vote that was determined to be coerced by an elected official, prompting the court to flip the outcome.

On Dec. 19, 2023, a Queens, New York, man was arraigned in relation to a 140-count indictment, including charges for submitting fraudulent absentee ballot applications, falsifying business records, and criminal possession of forged instruments in connection with the August 2022 Democrat primary. His case is still pending.

During a post-election felon audit conducted by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, it was discovered that an ineligible voter, a woman who was on probation after a felony conviction, illegally voted in the 2020 election.

An elderly New Hampshire man pleaded guilty to knowingly voting twice in the 2016 general election, once under his own name and once by impersonating a woman under a false name he had registered.

John Mallozzi, a former chairman of the Stamford Democratic City Committee in Connecticut, was convicted of 14 counts of forgery and making false statements in connection with 26 absentee ballots and 31 fraudulent applications in local elections in 2015.

Mr. Mallozzi was sentenced on Nov. 14, 2022, to two years probation and ordered to pay $35,000 in fines.

Voter Rolls

Many states don’t regularly clean their voter rolls to remove ineligible voters, including those who have died, moved to another state, or were erroneously added in the first place. 

A 70-year-old Arizona woman pleaded guilty to submitting an absentee ballot that was sent to her deceased father in the 2018 November general election. The man died in 2012 and his name was never removed from the voter rolls. She was sentenced to one year of probation and a small fine.

Maricopa County election workers remove ballots from a drop box in Mesa, Ariz., on Nov. 8, 2022. (John Moore/Getty Images)

A registered Republican in Pennsylvania was convicted of using his deceased mother’s name to cast an absentee ballot in the 2020 presidential election.

A Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, woman pleaded guilty to forging and destroying ballots in the May 2022 primary after she filled out and submitted an absentee ballot on behalf of her deceased mother.

In 2020, Lauren Peabody, a Virginia woman who worked on a campaign for a GOP congressional candidate, pleaded guilty to participating in a plot in which signatures on the candidate’s nominating petitions were forged using the names of deceased people and former residents.

Lauren Bowman Bis, a spokesperson for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a national election integrity watchdog organization, said outdated voter rolls are a concern.

“Michigan still has more than 20,000 deceased people registered to vote,” she told The Epoch Times. “We have to ensure that voter rolls are accurate before the 2024 election. Every error on voter rolls presents an opportunity for fraud.”

Former Michigan state senator Patrick Colbeck said he’s also concerned about 2024.

“Until we address the election fraud which occurred during the 2020 election, we cannot have confidence that the 2024 election will be conducted in a fair and lawful manner,” he told The Epoch Times.

His low confidence is due, in part, to Michigan’s retention of most of the same officials that conducted the 2020 elections.

Mr. Colbeck said an overarching worry is the delegation of “more and more of our election processes” to unaccountable non-governmental entities that are not subject to Freedom of Information requests.

“The key to fair elections is equal access. If the general public had the same level of access to sensitive election records, such as voter rolls, voter history, poll books, and vote tallies that NGOs have, it would be much more difficult for anyone to subvert the integrity of our elections,” he said.

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