Election Fraud in LA Took Advantage of Homeless People

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Home 1” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carl Campbell

 

Four men confessed to remunerating homeless people in LA’s poor neighborhoods in cash and cigarettes in exchange for fake signatures on ballots and voter registration forms.

In November, Richard Howard, Louis Thomas Wise, Christopher Joseph Williams and Nickey Demelvin were arrested for the voter scam. 


 

Four men collected fake and forged signatures on Skid Row

The men were accused of seeking hundreds of false and forged signatures in the poor Skid Row neighborhoods of Los Angeles. They supposedly paid homeless people $1 and cigarettes to forge the documents.

All four men pleaded no contest to their felony charges. They admitted to reimbursing homeless people in cash and cigarettes in exchange for forged signatures on ballot petitions and voter registration forms in Los Angeles’ poor neighborhood. 

In November 2018, Richard Howard, Louis Thomas Wise, Christopher Joseph Williams, and Nickey Demelvin were arrested. They participated in the voter fraud scheme during the election in 2018 and in 2016.  

Howard obtained a suspended sentence of three years in state prison and three years of formal probation. Wise got a suspended sentence of 16 months in state prison and three years of formal probation. Williams and Huntley each received a sentence of three years of formal probation.  

Five other people bought fake signatures from homeless people

Five other people were accused of seeking hundreds of fake and forged signatures in Skid Row, an impoverished area with more than 5,000 homeless people living in tents and under tarps. 

The group supposedly set up tables near shelters and soup kitchens to attract people in and offered them $1 and cigarettes to sign the ballot petitions and voter registration forms. The prosecutor called their action ‘an assault on our democracy’.  

The accused were arrested with assistance from the FBI as part of an LAPD crackdown on voter fraud.  

A fifth defendant, Norman Hall, 62, pleaded guilty to one felony count and was sentenced to one year in jail. 

The four remaining defendants – Kirkland Kauzava Washington, 38; Harold Bennett, 53; Rose Makeda Sweeney, 42; and Jakara Fati Mardis, 35 – are still waiting for charges. 

According to the District Attorney’s office, three of those defendants are scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing in September.

LA County elections chief Dean Logan believes those falsified ballots were not counted because staff manually compared petition signatures to the ones on registration forms.