Absentee ballots and campaign shakedowns in Miami

So, I confess, I had to look up who Luther Campbell was, aside from a guy who came in fourth in a race for county mayor in Miami-Dade County. He was a somewhat high-profile music promoter, fronting for groups like 2 Live Crew. But it is his electoral experience, as described in his column in the Miami New Times, that draws our attention today. He describes some of the more ugly experiences that someone like him has when trying to put together a campaign in Miami and the strange offers he gets:

The only way to get that many absentee ballots is by hiring brokers who charge candidates thousands of dollars to deliver bundles to the county elections department. The brokers are the ones responsible for dead people voting in the ’80s and ’90s. Now they go around strong-arming the elderly residents at assisted living facilities or fooling them with free breakfast at the local IHOP. The brokers also pay off preachers so they can set up shop inside houses of worship to sign up absentee voters.

I saw it firsthand when I ran in the recent county mayoral race. One guy, who I won’t name, guaranteed he could deliver thousands of absentee ballots in North Miami and North Miami Beach for $3,000. I took a pass. It showed on Election Day. I had more early and Election Day ballots than absentee votes.

Sure would be neat if he said more about this. We know that this problem isn’t necessarily unique to south Florida, as there were a bunch of arrests in more rural north Florida earlier this month. One wonders if these are the sorts of “manufacturing ballots” stories that former Rep. Artur Davis was talking about in neighboring Alabama.

NYT Editorial Page Editor struggles to examine the record on voter fraud (UPDATED)

For a number of reasons, I tend to avoid claims of media bias, as I am often reminded of Silberman’s Law, from Rumsfeld’s Rules, that notes that we often overstate “conspiracy,” while “underestimat[ing] incompetency and fortuity.” However, I have trouble explaining this one any other way. The New York Times editorial page editor, Andy Rosenthal, says, “A half-dozen times or so I’ve asked followers of my Twitter feed for examples of voter fraud – particularly of a scale that would justify erecting barriers against whole groups of voters. Haven’t gotten any.” Now, this was the first that I had heard of it because, well, I don’t follow Mr. Rosenthal. However, I am not convinced that I will start following him, as he seems unequipped with the basic tools of research.

Now, like Mr. Rosenthal, I do get frustrated with discussions of election fraud that don’t detail specific convictions. And while I believe that ACORN-style registration fraud is a real problem, I try to avoid discussing it. After all, we should lead with our strongest argument.

So let’s review some recent convictions, just to remind ourselves that election fraud happens, it is well documented, and it sways elections:

  • My favorite example is the 2003 East Chicago (Indiana) Democratic mayoral primary. There were 32 convictions. The election results were also thrown out by the Indiana Supreme Court. Note that that last link is to a story in the Chicago Tribune, my home-town paper, that discusses the conviction of the “reform” candidate in that election, with the splendid sentence, “On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced former Mayor George Pabey to five years in prison, the third consecutive East Chicago mayor to come to grief in a federal courtroom.” This case galvanized support for a voter ID law in Indiana that was eventually argued in the US Supreme Court, where the opinion upholding the law was written by former Justice Stevens. Some noted at the time that Justice Stevens, who was normally a reliable liberal vote, grew up in Chicago.
  • Then there’s another favorite case, that of Ophelia Ford. Mrs. Ford is the sister of former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Sr., sister of former State Rep. John Form, now serving time in federal prison for bribery, and the aunt of former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., now a New York resident, and, undoubtedly, a subscriber to the New York Times. In this case, Mrs. Ford, a Democrat, defeated an incumbent Republican by 13 votes. The local newspaper, the Commercial Appeal, smelled something and dug. In the end, the State Senate vacated the election on a vote of 26-6, and three people plead guilty to felonies. In that case, the judge noted that the guilty plea actually prevented a full record of the fraud from being documented. But the guilty pleas did involve both dead and moved people voting.
  • Closer in both time and space to the New York Times, there is the ongoing investigation of the Troy City Council race from 2009, which I have written about in the past. The city clerk has plead guilty.
  • I also noted a series of convictions in Alabama that may have triggered the recent op-ed by former Alabama Representative Artur Davis backing voter ID laws.
I hope that Mr. Rosenthal looks through these records, all reported in the local newspapers. I think that it is fair to say that you can only deny that voter fraud exists if you willfully ignore it. Like the New York Times editorial page did when it wrote up all the new voter ID laws, but conspicuously ignored the case of Rhode Island, where the Democratic African-American Speaker and the only African-American in the State Senate were the co-sponsors of the new voter ID bill.
UPDATE: Mr. Rosenthal has said on twitter that he will respond. I look forward to the discussion.

FBI arrests 8 in Florida for absentee ballot fraud

I have been writing up a storm about absentee ballot fraud in various places around the country. Today, the FBI arrested eight people in Florida who appear to have committed some pretty severe fraud in a 2010 School Board election in Madison,. The violations are pretty straight-forward, but also pretty brazen.

Read the story:

The investigation revealed that Johnson and her husband, Ernest Sinclair Johnson, Jr., approached voters and obtained their agreement to vote, after which the voters were asked to sign an “Absentee Ballot Request Form.” Without the voters’ knowledge or consent, an alternate address was handwritten on the form, causing the ballots to be mailed to a third party rather than directly to the registered voters. In 2010, Florida law required ballots to be sent to a voter’s registered address unless the voter was absent from the county, hospitalized, or temporarily unable to occupy their residence. The Johnsons retrieved the ballots from the third party locations, brought the ballots to the voter, waited for the person to vote, and then returned the ballots to the Supervisor of Elections. In some instances, the voters were only presented with the absentee ballot signature envelope to sign and never received the actual ballot to cast their vote.

Among the people arrested was the Madison County Supervisor of Elections, who appears to have known about all of this. The list of arrests is actually pretty striking:

  • Abra “Tina” Hill Johnson, 43, was charged with 10 counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, and two counts of absentee ballots and voting violations.
  • Her husband Ernest Sinclair Johnson, Jr., 45, was charged with 11 counts of fraud in connection with casting votes, one count of corruptly influencing voting, and one count of perjury by false written declaration.
  • Jada Woods Williams, 34, Madison County Supervisor of Elections, was charged with 17 counts of neglect of duty and corrupt practices for allowing the distribution of these absentee ballots, contrary to Florida state statute.
  • Judy Ann Crumitie, 51, charged with four counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, and one count of providing a false report to law enforcement authorities.
  • Laverne V. Haynes, 57, charged with two counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, two counts of perjury by false written declaration, and one count of providing a false report to law enforcement authorities.
  • Ora Bell Rivers, 41, charged with seven counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, three counts of perjury by false written declaration, and one count of providing a false report to law enforcement authorities.
  • Raven Simona Williams, 20, charged with two counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, two counts of perjury by false written declaration, and one count of providing a false report to law enforcement authorities
  • Shalonda Michaelle Brinson, 36, charged with nine counts of fraud in connection with casting a vote, and one count of provided a false report to law enforcement authorities.
Good thing that the FBI doesn’t believe the left’s claim that voter fraud doesn’t exist.

Indiana GOP goes after election fraud; 65 indictments in southern Indiana

Two weeks ago, we noted a Chicago Tribune story about fraud by either the Indiana Democratic Party or the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns in the 2008 Democratic Primary in Indiana. Now Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb is doing what I urge GOP chairman to do: document all the fraud that actually happens on the ground and the convictions that occur. I always like to point to the 32 convictions from the 2003 East Chicago Democratic Mayoral primary because the election was overturned, and we have testimony under oath of how the various sides try to cheat each other.  One example was sort of boring. In 2010, a Muncie city councilman who had been on the city council since 1987 was convicted of mishandling absentee ballots. But the tastiest was a new one.

Mike Marshall, who is running GOTV for the re-election of the Democratic mayor of Jeffersonville, right across the river from Louisville, just got indicted on 65 counts of absentee ballot fraud, along with his son and another guy. Now it wasn’t on behalf of the Democratic mayor. Mr. Marshall was responsible for a huge chunk of campaign expenditures:

Marshall was one of several people that Galligan personally thanked during his victory speech on primary night in May. According to the latest campaign finance reports, filed Friday, Galligan’s campaign paid Marshall’s business, North Vernon-based At Your Service Co., more than $52,710.23 through the year  — almost a third of the campaign’s total expenditures.

“He was in charge of getting out the vote,” Galligan said. When asked to elaborate on what those duties entailed, he referred questions to campaign manager Phil McCauley.

Get out the vote, eh? Well, it turned out that they knew about one allegation of the vote being gotten out improperly.

Republicans in Jennings County challenged several absentee ballots that were submitted in 2010, according to Negangard. Democrats subsequently ran an advertisement in the North Vernon Plain Dealer accusing the Republicans of trying to deny those absentee voters their constitutional rights. One of those voters identified in the ad was a Marine named Ben Cook, who later signed a sworn affidavit stating he’d never cast a ballot. That initiated the larger investigation.

It looked like the Dems improperly voted a Marine, depriving him of his rights. And once they investigated, they found enough material to indict on another 64 charges. Sounds more like a modus operandi than an isolated incident.

H/T Rick Hasen

Senate gives money to rich people. Where’s the #OWS outrage

Today the Senate voted for an amendment to give a subsidy to rich people. Not the first time, and it won’t be the last time. But is a perfect microcosm of today’s politics and the politics that got us into the housing crisis. Next time any of the Senate Democrats say anything about “Occupy Wall Street”, they should get asked a simple question: if you are so worried about the 99%, why are you subsidizing housing for the wealthy.

Here’s what happened. Senators Bob Menendez and Chuck Schumer, who represent rich Democrats in New Jersey and New York respectively, offered an amendment to raise the amount of a mortgage that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will backstop. The level that was backstopped by Fannie and Freddie was lowered to $620k, but they raised it again to $729k. So the government will offer a loan guarantee so that people can buy a $720k house. From Bloomberg:

The U.S. Senate adopted a measure that would raise the maximum size of a home loan backed by mortgage companies Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration to $729,750.

Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, offered the increase as an amendment to a spending bill today. The measure was approved less than a month after the limit on so-called conforming loans was automatically reduced to $625,500.

Now in the lefty narrative is that Republicans vote themselves more power and more money, but that’s not what happened here. There were 31 votes against this upper-middle class subsidy. All Republicans. Every Democrat voted for more federal money for rich people.

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African-American former Congressman supports voter ID, concerned about fraud

 

Artur Davis (D) - US Representative

Image via Wikipedia

So the left would have you believe that the voter fraud debate is really about racist Republicans trying to prevent African-Americans and other minorities from voting. The New York Times ran this argument earlier this month, conveniently ignoring that the right-wing bastion Rhode Island passed a voter ID sponsored by leading African-Americans and Latinos, all Democrats.

 

Well, today we are greeted by an op-ed by former Congressman Artur Davis, who was one of the shining lights of African-American Southern Democrats. Davis says that he made a mistake in opposing voter ID and that the real thing that needs immediate action is “manufactured” ballots in Alabama’s Black Belt, which refers to the color of the dirt.

Let’s check out Davis’s own words, which are pretty striking:

I’ve changed my mind on voter ID laws — I think Alabama did the right thing in passing one — and I wish I had gotten it right when I was in political office.

When I was a congressman, I took the path of least resistance on this subject for an African American politician. Without any evidence to back it up, I lapsed into the rhetoric of various partisans and activists who contend that requiring photo identification to vote is a suppression tactic aimed at thwarting black voter participation.

The truth is that the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community, at least in Alabama, is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt.

Now, it is worth pointing out the record that we are talking about here. He is addressing a real problem. After all, Alabama has an extraordinary record of convictions for election fraud. Let’s give some examples:

  • Heritage noted in 2008 a long record of the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference working hard to stop investigations of election fraud that resulted in the convictions of 11 people involved in long-term vote “manufacturing.”
  • In 2010, a Pike County Commissioner plead guilty to absentee voter fraud. She knowingly submitted improperly witnessed and/or fabricated ballots in an election she won by 6 votes. The election was eventually overturned by a judge.
  • In 2009, two women plead guilty to absentee ballot fraud. In grand jury testimony related to an event in 2004, they testified that they witnessed a bunch of absentee ballots in room, misspelling the names of the people that they were voting for.
  • In 2010, the former Hale County Court Clerk plead guilty to a number of charges relating to the 2004 and 2005 elections. The indictment found that she was committing fraud for a number of candidates including her brother and her husband.
  • In 2008, even NPR had a report about the problems in Alabama.
Now that former Congressman Davis is not dependent on the votes and support of this corrupt machine, he can tell the truth about it that anyone with access to Google News or any decent news archive sees plainly.

Fraud in signature collection for Obama and Hillary in 2008

Getting a candidate on the ballot in Indiana is not easy. I know, from first hand experience, that many campaigns struggle to do it. But it now appears that in 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took a short-cut. They just cheated.

It turns out that someone appears to have forged the signature of former Democratic Governor Joe Kernan on the petition to get Barack Obama on the ballot:

Former Gov. Joe Kernan says a signature on a petition to place Barack Obama‘s name on Indiana’s 2008 primary ballot isn’t his, putting him among dozens of dubious signatures found in a newspaper’s investigation.

While that is the appealing headline that gets lots of attention, the more nefarious story is that it happened on a more systematic basis:

The Tribune first reported Sunday that it and the Howey Politics Indiana newsletter had found pages from Clinton and Obama petitions with names and signatures that appear to have been copied by hand from a petition for 2008 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jim Schellinger. The petitions were filed with the Indiana Election Division after the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Office verified individuals’ information on the documents.

Copying pages and pages of names demonstrates a certain level of disregard that is a little hard to imagine. Every time I have seen a campaign doing ballot access, there is relatively continuous oversight as campaigns try to figure out whether they need to spend more money for paid collectors, where they need to engage more volunteers, etc. It is hard for me to imagine how a campaign could be so disengaged from the details that something like this would happen. Especially to two campaigns (and the only ones on the ballot, as I recall). This is important stuff. You don’t just let the local guys do it without oversight.

Especially when the local guys are Chicago and northern Indiana, where there appears to be a pattern of  systemic fraud.  I noted some precinct results from Chicago that got over 100% turnout in previous elections. Both the Alderman and his dad went to prison for misusing their office for personal gain. Chicago is notorious for ongoing problems. And Indiana had one of the most remarkable cases of election fraud in the 2003 East Chicago Democratic mayoral primary in which 32 people plead guilty to varieties of election fraud.

Rhode Island and Voter ID

Today, the New York Times has an editorial attacking so-called voter ID bills. According to Democratic and New York Times (but I repeat myself) mythmaking, voter ID is a racist Republican scheme to stop minorities and Democrats from voting:

Of course the Republicans passing these laws never acknowledge their real purpose, which is to turn away from the polls people who are more likely to vote Democratic, particularly the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. They insist that laws requiring government identification cards to vote are only to protect the sanctity of the ballot from unscrupulous voters.

When I read this piece, I thought I might have missed a discussion of Rhode Island, which might be called an inconvenient truth for the Democratic conspiracy theorists. Let me remind you what happened in Rhode Island. As the Providence Journal noted when the bill passed:

This year, voter-ID legislation was backed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, including two prominent black lawmakers: House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and Sen. Harold M. Metts. Sen. Juan M. Pichardo, the first Latino elected to a Rhode Island Senate seat and the first Dominican-American elected to a state senate seat in the country, also supported it. Fox, Metts and Pichardo are Providence Democrats.

So the Democrat, African-American Speaker of the Rhode Island House, the leading African-American state Senator, and the first Dominican elected state Senator in the country all supported the bill. They are all Democrats.

I wonder what the New York Times explanation of why these Democrats and minority leaders supported a voter ID bill. And I wonder why the Grey Lady didn’t mention this dreaded provision passing in a deep, deep blue state like Rhode Island… Maybe it is just an inconvenient truth?

The Senate passes GOP FAA extension after White House freaks out

Yesterday the press announced a bipartisan compromise over the FAA. Of course, that wasn’t what happened. One reporter told me that the deal was bipartisan because “that was how Reid framed it in his statement.” What really happened was that Harry Reid and Senate Democrats proved themselves to be venal, the press fell down on the job, the White House had a panic attack, and the bipartisan deal seems to be brokered between the White House’s token Republican, Ray LaHood and Harry Reid. So here’s what actually happened.

Senate Democrats decided to go home after the debt ceiling bill was passed. They ignored the FAA situation completely. A Reid staffer told the Washington Post:

But the administration’s effort faltered by late afternoon, with Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson saying that the Senate would not allow House Republicans “to jam through a policy” in a stop-gap funding extension bill.

Just a couple of hours ago, that’s precisely what happened. The Senate passed the House bill, and after a couple of weeks, construction restarts and the FAA goes back to work. So the record is clear: Harry Reid made a decision to leave 75k+ workers stranded.

But once attention shifted from the debt ceiling to the alleged “pivot” to jobs, people realized what Harry Reid’s decision meant. It meant that 75k people would be effectively unemployed. That might show up in the early September job number (recall that Congress was coming back September 7th). That’s a pretty lousy way to start a jobs pivot, eh?

So the White House freaked out. The Department of Transportation blamed Congress. The DNC claimed that Republicans weren’t compromising. But the blood was on their hands. Harry Reid left them hanging.

And this morning he ate crow and decided to let people work over his vanity. Thanks Harry. The American people know what you mean when you care about jobs… You mean fake attacks on Republicans.

Dem official pleads guilty in NY election fraud investigation

In Jaunary, I wrote about indictments in a New York State election fraud investigation. In a September 2009 Working Families Party primary in Troy, NY, there were allegations of voter fraud. Two Democratic members of the Troy City Council were indicted on 116 charges related to absentee voter fraud.

Now the (Democratic) City Clerk has resigned and plead guilty to a felony as part of the investigation. He is also singing. The Clerk, William McInerney is a Democratic Committeeman, and the police seem to have the goods on him going back to at least 2007, suggesting that this may be a way of life in Troy, NY.

The plea offer made to McInerney, a Democrat, is based, in part, on information compiled by State Police showing McInerney may have helped forge absentee ballots in previous campaigns dating to at least 2007.

McInerney, 47, is a former state Assembly worker who has been a Democratic committeeman in Troy for years. He was appointed to the clerk’s position by the City Council when Democrats took control of the Troy council in January 2008.

Just to emphasize the point: this guy was appointed by the Democrats to run elections in 2008. The cops have him for election fraud back to 2007. So the Democrats appointed someone who knew how to steal elections to run elections.

In January, I noted that there may be something systematic about this, as one of the indicted Democratic officials is also the son of a Democratic official who was convicted of voter fraud. From the Times Union:

For the McDonoughs, this is the second time in 20 years that a family member has been indicted. McDonough’s father, the late Rensselaer County Democratic Party Chairman Edward F. McDonough Jr., was indicted by a federal grand jury, convicted and sentenced to federal prison in 1994 for a municipal insurance kickback scheme that brought him $637,000.

It looks like this McDonough fellow will be a prime target of McInerney’s cooperation:

State Police, in court documents, have said they have evidence that McDonough delivered a bundle of forged WFP absentee ballots to McInerney on the eve of the 2009 primary election.

I would note that absentee voter fraud seems to be the easiest and most common form of voter fraud in our country these days. Today, Taegen Goddard, a Democratic operative, quoted from a book by former Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Tom Glaze entitled Waiting for the Cemetary Vote:

“If you want to steal an election, the absentee box is the place to begin, and if you want to calculate the likelihood of fraud in a county, first figure the percentage of its total vote that is cast in absentia.”