High-profile voter fraud prosecutions pile up as election integrity debate rages on

From a former Democrat congressman to mayors and city council members, evidence of ballot rigging schemes is unmasked in court filings.

Published: June 13, 2022 6:38pm

Updated: June 13, 2022 11:37pm

While the debate over the integrity of the 2020 election rages on, prosecutors across the country have assembled evidence in court against multiple election officials, activists and candidates and even helped overturn the results in one race.

Those who have been recently investigated or charged in connection with election fraud – and in some cases have pled guilty – range from the local to the federal ballot box and date back to 2014.

Many of the cases involve mail-in ballots, which were more widely used amid the pandemic when voters feared going to polling stations or communities shuttered locations as part of lockdown mandates. 

Phill Kline, director of election integrity watchdog the Amistad Project, told Just the News on Monday that while government officials cheating on elections is as old as the first election in Athens, what's new is some governments have been disinterested in scrutinizing the 2020 election.

"What's challenging now is a large group of government officials and members of one particular political party ... don't want to make an effort to identify" election fraud, he said.

But some evidence has broken through, resulting in high-profile prosecutions.

In Troy, New York, Kimberly Ashe-McPherson, a GOP councilwoman, resigned from the City Council after pleading guilty to federal identity theft for fraudulently submitting three absentee ballots in the state's primaries and general elections last year amid her reelection. She said an official on the Rensselaer County Board of Elections in New York gave her guidance on how to submit the ballots. Her plea agreement is part of an investigation led by the FBI into allegations of widespread ballot fraud in Rensselaer County.

In Pennsylvania, former Democratic Congressman Michael "Ozzie" Myers pled guilty to "conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights, bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of voting records and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election by orchestrating schemes to fraudulently stuff ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Pennsylvania election," according to the Justice Department.

Myers bribed Domenick DeMuro, a Philadelphia Democratic ward chairman and election judge, who pled guilty in 2020 to accepting bribes. Myers also admitted to another election conspiracy in which he worked with south Philadelphia election judge Marie Beren, who was charged separately and pled guilty in 2021.

In Arizona, Guillermina Fuentes, a former Democratic mayor of San Luis and board member for the the Gadsden Elementary School District, pled guilty earlier this month to ballot harvesting during the August 2020 primary election. Fuentes was part of a ballot-harvesting scheme in Yuma County in which early ballots were collected from voters and dropped off at a ballot box on primary election day.

In Compton, Calif., Councilman Isaac Galvan has been charged in connection with rigging votes in his June 2021 runoff election. The runoff followed a close primary with challenger Andre Spicer. The election victory by Galvan was overturned by a judge, who determined that four of the votes cast in the runoff – which was won by a single vote – were submitted by people living outside the council district. Spicer then replaced Galvan as councilman at the end of May. Galvan, a Democrat, has pled not guilty to the charges.

In Paterson, New Jersey, City Councilman Michael Jackson rejected a plea agreement last month in an election fraud case regarding mail-in ballots. The Democrat lawmaker was charged in June 2020, then was indicted by a grand jury in February 2021.

The charges include election fraud, fraud in casting mail-in vote, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records or information, and falsifying or tampering with records. Jackson ran and came in third for the mayoral election last month in Paterson. Democratic Councilman Alex Mendez has also been indicted on the same charges, in addition to ones related to falsifying one or more registrations. Mendez, who has denied the charges, competed with Jackson in the same mayoral election last month, placing second.

In Pendleton County, West Virginia, contract mail carrier Thomas Cooper pled guilty in July 2020 to "attempted election fraud" and "injury to the mail" and was sentenced to five years of probation, with the first six months home confinement.

The Pendleton County clerk received eight absentee ballot requests for the 2020 primary election connected to Cooper that appeared to be altered. Five of the requests appeared to have the political party changed from Democrat to Republican, and the other three were altered without the party being changed.

Kline also said that the novel problem in U.S. elections is that in using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse, "many jurisdictions set aside basic law and principles to prevent fraud before it happened."

Kline noted that people have been convicted regarding election fraud in almost every election in U.S. history. However, the influx of millions of dollars in private funding for the administration of elections, in addition to fraud prevention safeguards being discarded and the government not investigating fraud, is "unprecedented."

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