From Caselaw we find some of the details from a real settled voter fraud case.
This case involves two conspiracies by the opposing candidates for county commissioner and their respective supporters to buy votes in the July 9, 1996, Dodge County primary election in Eastman, Georgia. McCranie’s challenger was Doyce Mullis (“Mullis”), the former Dodge County commissioner. Jones, the thirty-year incumbent sheriff of Dodge County, was charged in both conspiracies, because he had supporters in both of the county commissioner camps who bought votes for him. The election was a mixed federal-state election because there were candidates for the United States Senate and the House of Representatives on the ballot, along with the contests for county commissioner, sheriff, and numerous other local races.
In the county commissioner’s race, McCranie won by only 31 votes. Jones’s sole opponent for sheriff was Theo “Ted” Parkerson, Jr. (“Parkerson”). Jones won the disputed primary election by only nine votes……
The government’s evidence at trial included the testimony of several co-conspirators who bought votes for the candidates. Cooperation witness Charles Deloach (“Deloach”) testified about Jones’s participation in the “Mullis-Jones” vote buying conspiracy. Early in the campaign Jones and Mullis met with Deloach at the county jail and discussed how much money to pay various voters for voting a certain way. The parties discussed payment of $20 per voter….
In addition to live testimony, the government also introduced bank records showing that during the campaign McCranie and Jones each obtained $15,000 in $20 bills from an Eastman bank.
The investigation revealed that most of the illegal vote buying occurred during the absentee voting period prior to election day. The investigation disclosed that for the challenged primary, 1,647 absentee ballots were issued for a voting population of approximately 11,000 voters. In other words, approximately 15% of all ballots issued were absentee ballots. State election officials advised that issuance of more than 10% of absentee ballots for a registered voter population was considered extremely high.
The Dodge County election superintendent testified that 1,500 absentee votes (out of less than 8,000 total votes cast in the election), was unprecedented for Dodge County. Out of approximately 1,500 absentee ballots counted in the sheriff’s race, Jones received 1,047 votes and his opponent, Parkerson, received only 449 votes. In the county commissioner’s race, McCranie received 693 absentee votes, while Mullis received 794.
Incredibly, each of the two camps-McCranie and Mullis-actually set up tables inside the courthouse at opposite ends of the hall, where supporters on both sides openly bid against each other to buy absentee votes.
At trial, a Dodge County magistrate described the rowdy courthouse atmosphere during the absentee voting period as “a successful flea market.” (R3-446). One of the vote buyers in the Mullis camp also testified that the open bidding for votes was “[l]ike an auction.”
A recent case with an arrest, no trial yet, in Miami-Dade County involved a woman accused of obtaining absentee ballots from nursing home residents. Of note in this case, is the prevalence of absentee voting in this area.
Absentee voting has long played an outsized role in Hialeah politics — almost half of the voters in last year’s city mayor’s race voted absentee — leading to chronic suspicions of ballot fraud. Stories of stolen or altered ballots inspired the Miami-Dade Commission last year to pass a new ordinance restricting absentee ballot collection.
In 2008, prosecutors investigated allegations that campaign workers for U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart were trying to collect ballots from supporters of Diaz-Balart’s opponent, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez. Among those investigated: Sasha Tirador, now the campaign manager for Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, the chief rival to Gimenez in the county mayor’s race. Tirador denied wrongdoing, and no charges were ever filed.
It is fairly easy to find instances of voter fraud involving absentee ballots. A recent survey found 491 reported cases of absentee ballot related voter fraud. What I have not had much luck finding, is legislation aimed at stopping absentee ballot fraud.