Latest Election Fraud Cases Underscore Importance of Election Integrity

COMMENTARY Election Integrity

Latest Election Fraud Cases Underscore Importance of Election Integrity

Jul 21st, 2022 5 min read

Commentary By

Katie Samalis-Aldrich

Program Coordinator, Meese Center

Hans A. von Spakovsky @HvonSpakovsky

Election Law Reform Initiative Manager, Senior Legal Fellow

Voting is one of the most fundamental parts of a representative government. traffic_analyzer / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

These cases demonstrate the wide variety of ways in which bad actors set out to submit fraudulent ballots or steal elections.

Citizens who participate in elections should be able to trust the fairness and integrity of the electoral process.

“Even the best laws are not worth much if responsible officials do not enforce them rigorously.”

With the latest cases of impersonation, registration fraud, absentee ballot fraud, bribery, and illegal vote trafficking added to The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database, the database now contains 1,365 proven instances of election fraud. These cases demonstrate the wide variety of ways in which bad actors set out to submit fraudulent ballots or steal elections.

The database is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all election fraud in the states. Rather, it presents a sampling of recent, proven instances of election fraud from across the country that is intended to highlight the many ways in which fraud has been committed.

Below are a few of the latest cases we’ve added:

  • Kimberly McPherson, a member of the Troy, New York, City Council, pleaded guilty to one count of identity theft for casting absentee ballots in the names of two other people in the 2021 City Council election. In seeking reelection, McPherson cast at least one absentee ballot on behalf of another during the primary election and cast absentee ballots for at least two people other than herself during the general election. As part of her plea agreement, McPherson agreed to resign from the City Council. She faces up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 when she is sentenced. Unfortunately, this type of misbehavior is not new in Troy. In 2014, four residents of the city, including another member of the City Council and the city clerk, were convicted of forging the signatures of voters and submitting fraudulent absentee ballots. At the time, one of the defendants, Anthony DeFiglio, a local committeeman, said such absentee ballot fraud was “a normal political tactic” in local elections.
  • Former Democrat U.S. Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers was charged with over 13 felonies for orchestrating a scheme to stuff ballot boxes in Philadelphia for Democrat candidates he either favored or represented as a political consultant in local, state, and federal elections. This is not Myers’ first scandal either. He was ousted from Congress in 1980 after he was convicted of bribery as part of the Abscam sting. In his latest act of lawlessness, Myers bribed Domenick Demuro and Marie Beren, who managed several polling places in the city as “judges of elections,” to add bogus votes for his favored candidates. This ballot box stuffing occurred in multiple elections between 2014 and 2018. Myers pleaded guilty to depriving persons of civil rights, bribery, falsification of voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election. He faces up to 60 years in prison and over $1 million in possible fines when he is sentenced in September.
  • Beren, one of the election officials bribed by Myers to stuff ballot boxes with bogus votes, pleaded guilty to depriving persons of civil rights, bribery, falsification of voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election. She will be sentenced in August. The other Philadelphia election official, Demuro, already pleaded guilty in 2021 to the same charges.
  • Judge Michelle Williams Court overturned the result of the June 2021 Compton, California, run-off election for a City Council seat after she found that four votes had been cast by voters who had fraudulently registered and did not actually live in the district for that seat. The run-off election between incumbent Isaac Galvan and Andre Spicer had been decided by one vote, and Galvan was initially declared the winner. The judge threw out the four fraudulent votes and declared Spicer the official winner of the election. Five people, including Galvan, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit election fraud. All of them subsequently pleaded guilty or no contest to the charges.
  • Francis Presto of South Park, Pennsylvania, requested and cast an absentee ballot on behalf of his deceased wife. He was charged with interfering with an election, unlawful use of a computer, and forging a ballot. He was sentenced to a diversion program and ordered to complete 250 hours of community service. His charges will be dropped if he successfully completes the diversion program.
  • Guillermina Fuentes was charged with ballot abuse for illegal ballot trafficking during the 2020 primary election. Fuentes, the former mayor of San Luis, Arizona, now works as a political consultant. Fuentes collected absentee ballots from voters and, in some instances, completed the ballots herself. She pleaded guilty to one count of ballot abuse. She is awaiting sentencing.
  • Alma Yadira Juarez was charged with one count of ballot abuse for illegal ballot trafficking during the 2020 primary election in San Luis. Juarez collected absentee ballots that were completed by Fuentes and pleaded guilty to one count of ballot abuse. She is also awaiting sentencing.
  • Monica Mendez was involved in an absentee ballot trafficking scheme to alter the results of the May 2018 water board election in Bloomington, Texas. Mendez was a volunteer deputy registrar responsible for registering new voters. During the election, 275 people in Bloomington registered to vote all using the same post office box of a subsidized housing company as a mailing address. Mendez was running the vote trafficking operation for the company, which wanted to oust the incumbents and take control of the board in order to cut water rates for its rental properties. Mendez pleaded guilty to 26 felony counts, including three counts of illegal voting, eight counts of election fraud, seven counts of unlawful assistance to a voter to submit a ballot by mail, and eight counts of unlawful possession of a mail ballot. She was sentenced to five years of deferred adjudication probation, 80 hours of community service, and fined $1,415.

In addition, the sheriff in Yuma County, Arizona, where Fuentes and Juarez orchestrated their absentee ballot fraud, recently issued a press release stating he has another 16 open “voting/registration” cases that are currently being investigated.

The problems, unfortunately, don’t end there. The Public Interest Legal Foundation recently published a report stating that New Jersey could potentially have over 8,000 duplicate registrations on its voter rolls. Such errors in voter registration lists that are undetected by election officials allow fraud to occur by anyone who wants to take advantage of those errors, as happened in the Compton, California, case discussed above.

Voting is one of the most fundamental parts of a representative government. Citizens who participate in elections should be able to trust the fairness and integrity of the electoral process and should be able to trust that ineligible voters and fraudsters cannot thwart the will of the people.

Ensuring fair and free elections is important to all Americans, and state legislatures should work to make that happen by implementing the kinds of election reforms that The Heritage Foundation has recommended in its Election Integrity Scorecard. But, as we note in the scorecard, “Even the best laws are not worth much if responsible officials do not enforce them rigorously. It is up to the citizens of each state to make sure that their elected and appointed public officials do just that.”

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal