The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database now includes 1,412 proven instances of election fraud, and our legal center is monitoring many other ongoing prosecutions.
The database, which provides a sampling of recent election fraud cases, demonstrates the vulnerabilities within the electoral process and the need for reforms to secure free and fair elections for the American people.
The database doesn’t list potential fraud discovered by election officials and others that is never investigated or prosecuted, and it obviously cannot list fraud that goes undetected when states with poor security don’t have the tools in place to even realize such fraud is occurring.
But states—especially now that many state legislative sessions are beginning—should make stopping fraud and ensuring the integrity of their elections a top priority.
Here are a few examples of cases that were recently added to the database.
We’ve written before on the ballot-trafficking scheme orchestrated by Leslie McCrae Dowless, a political operative who was working on behalf of North Carolina 9th Congressional District candidate Mark Harris, a Republican, in 2019 involving stuffing the ballot box with fraudulent absentee ballots for Harris.
State election officials determined that Harris had no knowledge of what Dowless was doing.
Dowless, who died last April, was known in Braden County for ballot trafficking. He would “assist” certain candidates who hired him as a consultant for their campaigns, and those candidates or causes that Dowless supported seemed to have a sure way to win elections.
Authorities finally caught up with Dowless after his absentee-ballot trafficking scheme caused so much election fraud that, for the first time in 40 years, a congressional race was overturned, and the North Carolina State Board of Elections had to order a new election.
Dowless instructed his hired fraudsters to mark blank absentee ballots for Harris, complete unfinished absentee ballots, forge signatures on absentee ballots for individuals who were unaware ballots were being cast in their name, and then mail the ballots to election officials.
Officials became suspicious when 61% of the vote-by-mail ballots were cast for the Republican candidate, despite the fact that only 16% of the ballot-by-mail voters were registered Republicans.
Ginger Shae Eason, Tonia Gordon, Rebecca Thompson, Kelly Hendrix, James Singleton, Jessica Dowless, and Caitlyn Croom all pleaded guilty to felony charges related to this absentee-ballot fraud scheme. They were all sentenced to probation, ordered to complete community service, and assessed fines and court fees for their involvement in the fraud scheme.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only example of absentee-ballot fraud by an activist among our latest cases added to the database.
Janet Reed, an Evansville, Indiana, Democratic Party activist, sent illegally pre-marked absentee-ballot applications to voters ahead of the 2020 primary election. To make matters worse, Reed pre-selected the Democrat Party where voters were supposed to choose to receive either a Republican or Democratic primary ballot. Reed included instructions with the applications stating the party affiliation “needs no input.”
Despite receiving several warnings from election officials and even from the Democratic Party to knock it off, Reed kept sending out the pre-marked applications that interfered with the ability of voters to decide which party primary they wanted to vote in.
Reed pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unauthorized use of absentee ballots, was sentenced to 18 months of probation, and was ordered to pay restitution of $2,740 and court costs of $925. She was also barred from working on any elections while on probation.
Our latest update also features several instances of convicted felons voting.
In Florida, Marc Crump and Dedrick De’ron Baldwin were felons who were recently convicted of illegally voting in the 2020 general election.
Crump, who voted in the August 2020 primary and November 2020 general election, pleaded guilty to one count of false swearing and one count of illegal voting. He was sentenced to 10 months in jail and assessed $668 in costs and fees.
Baldwin was charged with two felonies after he voted in the 2020 Democratic primary and 2020 general election. He pleaded no contest to both charges and was sentenced to 364 days in prison on each count. Baldwin was already serving a 12-year sentence for manslaughter and aggravated battery.
The fraudulent conduct of those two ineligible voters was discovered following an investigation by Florida Department of Law Enforcement of Alachua County election supervisor Kim Barton, a Democrat, who organized voter-registration drives that improperly registered felons to vote.
In Arizona, Victor Aguirre, a convicted felon, registered to vote and then voted in the 2020 general election. Aguirre pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempted illegal voting and was sentenced to a minimum term of six months in prison, to be followed by a period of supervised release, and was assessed fees and fines.
In Texas, Francisco Tamez Jr., another convicted felon, voted in the 2017 city of Edinburg municipal election. Tamez pleaded guilty to the felony charge and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
In Minnesota, Linda Maria Stately, of Little Falls, a convicted felon, registered and voted in the 2020 general election. Stately pleaded guilty to a felony charge of ineligible voting and was sentenced to five years of probation and assessed fines and fees. Her charges will be reduced to a misdemeanor if she successfully completes the terms of her probation.
A new case from Florida demonstrates the importance of implementing safeguards in the voter-registration system to detect election fraud, particularly in states that use online voter registration.
Anthony Guevara was charged with two felonies after he changed the voter-registration address of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the state’s voter-registration database online.
After the fraudulent address change was registered in the system, it was flagged, and law enforcement officers were able to trace the IP address to Guevara’s home. He pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to two years of probation, 100 hours of community service, fined $5,421.39, and assessed $515 in court and prosecution costs.
Another example from Florida demonstrates how system safeguards of the type recommended in The Heritage Foundation’s Election Integrity Scorecard can prevent fraudulent votes from being counted in the first place.
Larry Wiggins, a registered Democrat from Sarasota, requested a mail-in ballot on behalf of his late wife during the 2020 general election. Election staff discovered the fraud during a routine check of the voter rolls, which revealed that his wife had died two years earlier.
Wiggins forged his deceased wife’s signature on the ballot-request form and admitted that he intended to mail it back once he received it, but he was stopped by law enforcement. He pleaded no contest to one count of vote-by-mail fraud, and was sentenced to 24 months’ probation, 100 hours of community service, and assessed $738 in court costs, fees, and fines.
If Florida hadn’t had such safeguards and preventative checks in place, that ballot very well could have been cast and counted in the election.
It should come as no surprise that Florida—tied with Louisiana for the No. 6 ranking on our Election Integrity Scorecard—has demonstrated a commitment to improving its laws, regulations, and procedures to ensure secure elections.
We also recently added a couple of instances of ineligible aliens voting to the database.
In Ohio, Irnatine Boayue, an ineligible alien, registered and voted in the 2016 general election. Boayue pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of attempted false voter registration and was sentenced to one day in the Franklin County Correction Center. The court waived fines and court costs on account of the defendant’s indigency.
In Minnesota, Abdihakim Essa, also an alien, forged his father’s signature as a witness when submitting absentee ballots in Hennepin County. Essa pleaded guilty to four felony charges and was sentenced to 180 days in an adult correctional facility, 90 days of which were stayed pending successful completion of two years of supervised probation. He was also assessed $78 in court costs.
Zameahia Ismail, another alien, registered and voted in person in two different precincts in a Hennepin County, Minnesota, election in 2017. She voted in St. Louis Park, where she actually lived, and a second time in Minneapolis after being encouraged by an acquaintance to vote for Abi Warsame, a Democratic candidate for Minneapolis City Council.
She was not required to provide any identification in Minneapolis because her acquaintance vouched for her identity. Ismail, who pleaded guilty to the charge of registering in more than one precinct, was sentenced to a year in prison, with all but 20 days stayed pending successful completion of two years of supervised probation. She was also assessed fines and fees totaling $78.
As the latest updates to our Election Fraud Database illustrate, threats to fair and free elections continue to exist. As the more than 1,400 cases in the database should make abundantly clear, states should get to work implementing election reforms designed to improve the integrity of the election process.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal