In an election season already fraught with accusations of tampering, miscounting, illegal immigrant voting and more, a new scandal is making headlines in California. Nine individuals have been charged with election fraud (a felony) for their actions during the recent midterm elections. The people charged with voter fraud solicited votes from homeless people, offering money, cigarettes and other items in return for votes.
You can remind people to vote, ask them to vote and even promote a preferred candidate, but paying someone to vote for your preferred initiative or party is a felony. A person found to have committed this crime could face fines, jail time or both, according to Cornell University.
Homeless people are in every city in the US — and Los Angeles is no exception. The city’s “Skid Row” is known for being a gathering place for homeless people, and during the recent election, nine campaign workers have been charged with targeting these people and paying for votes.
These workers were charged by the LA District Attorney with a variety of crimes, primarily offering homeless people cigarettes and dollar bills to sign petitions. People signing petitions must be registered voters by law; the nine charged with a felony encouraged homeless people to use fake names and addresses to boost the number of signatures received on key initiatives in the state.
The signatures in question were allegedly obtained via bribery between 2016 and 2018, up until the recent midterm elections. The signatures were added to influence voter initiatives in California; some laws in the state are not voted in by legislators, but by citizens via petition. It is a common for workers supporting specific initiatives to target registered voters during commutes, on street corners and other public places. Criminal penalties, water bonds and property tax issues are all determined via citizen vote, not by elected officials, so the number of signatures obtained has a direct result on the outcome of these important issues.
The charges filed allege that the group of politically motivated individuals paid homeless people for each signature. Payments ranged from a single cigarette or dollar to eight dollars or more. The more signatures obtained, the better – the state requires 300,000 or more registered voter signatures to add a topic or initiative to the official ballot each election year.
By circumventing this process, the nine workers sought to influence which issues made it to the ballot and which did not. They are charged with inflating the numbers on specific initiatives to influence outcomes. While prosecutors did not reveal which specific initiatives were impacted, the repeal of a gas tax, rent control and property tax issues were all key issues in the past three years. This means that a total of 18 initiatives over three years may have been affected by voter fraud.
The workers charged with bribing homeless people for signatures face up to seven years in prison and prosecutors are asking for $25,000 bail for each. The story continues to emerge, so the total impact on California’s legal system is unknown.
~ Liberty Planet