Fraudulent vote scheme targeted homeless people in liberal Los Angeles’ Skid Row
Prosecutors have uncovered an alleged voter fraud ring in liberal California that was offering cash and cigarettes to homeless people on Los Angeles’ Skid Row in exchange for their signatures on voting documents.
LA prosecutors announced on Tuesday that the fraudulent scheme targetted homeless people and paid them $1 and/or cigarettes for “false and forged signatures” election registration documents and ballot petitions.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that nine people so far have been arrested and charged with felony counts related to the offenses, which are said to have occurred during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.
“The defendants are accused of engaging in the solicitation of hundreds of false and/or forged signatures on state ballot petitions and voter registration forms by allegedly offering homeless people $1 and/or cigarettes for their participation,” a statement from the attorney’s office reads.
The District Attorney’s office added that the charges include “circulating a petition with false names; use of false names on a petition; voter fraud, registering a fictitious person; and voter fraud, registering a nonexistent person.”
Of the nine charged with the offenses, three of the ring facing eight counts were identified as Kirkland Kauzava Washington, Harold Bennett, and Louis Thomas Wise.
The rest of the gang all faced four counts each and were identified as Richard Howard, Rose Makeda Sweeney, Christopher Joseph Williams, Jakara Fati Mardis, Norman Ha, l and Nickey Demelvin Huntley.
Their ages range from 28 to 62, and each could end up having to serve a maximum of around five to six years in prison if convicted.
The attorney’s office confirmed prosecutors have recommended their bail be set at $25,000 each.
The charges are part of a larger-scale crackdown on voter fraud that the LAPD has been undertaking this year.
Some of the petitions in which false signatures are alleged to have been collected for include proposals on an oversight commission for the sheriff’s department, and other matters relating to clean water and air, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Police told the newspaper that the signature gatherers were “just trying to make a buck” and do not appear to be politically motivated themselves.
In October, four members of a voter fraud ring were arrested in Texas after they were caught rigging the votes for Democratic candidates ahead of the 2016 primary elections.
The all-female gang was apprehended following a federal investigation, with all four women facing felony charges.
The women are accused of being part of what Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office called an organized voter fraud ring in Fort Worth, designed to swing elections in favor of the Democrats.
Paxton’s office said the voter fraud charges involve mail-in ballots sent in ahead of the 2016 primary election in Texas, with elderly voters on the north side of Fort Worth being the prime target of the ring.