Donald Trump, Dinesh D’Souza and others who breathlessly spin baseless theories about big-city Democrats perpetrating mass voter fraud, call your offices. Jason Schofield, an election commissioner at the Rensselaer County Board of Elections upstate who has an R next to his name, stands credibly accused by federal prosecutors of requesting absentee ballots for others, then in some cases voting on their behalf and without their knowledge. It is fair to say that MAGA heads would be exploding if similar allegations had been leveled against a Democratic election official in Philadelphia, Atlanta or Milwaukee.
In charging documents filed Sept. 8 and unsealed Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York says that after obtaining ballots for other citizens using the state’s absentee ballot application request portal — people who hadn’t asked for ballots and had no interest in voting — Schofield falsely certified that he was the person seeking the ballot. That’s illegal. In four of these cases, say the feds, after filling out or having someone else fill out their ballots, he then got those individuals to sign the outside of their absentee ballot envelopes. Illegal again.
Sure, this alleged fraud involved only eight ballots total and local elections, but a Republican seems to have gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The same cookie jar, a website that requires only basic information be submitted to allow absentee ballots to be ordered, has invited others. Earlier this year, federal prosecutors in Manhattan, having been tipped off to irregularities by the local Board of Elections, charged that one man obtained more than 100 absentee ballots in the names of others, including some celebrities and politicians, without their permission. He told the FBI he was doing it “as a hobby,” and never used the ballots to vote.
Voter fraud is extremely rare, and there wasn’t nearly enough of it to even potentially sway the 2020 presidential election results. But authorities still need to guard against it vigorously. Monitor those portals and check those envelope signatures carefully.