'They Tried to Steal an Election,' N.Y. Voter Fraud Case Heats Up
FOXNews.com, October 20, 2009. By Eric Shawn
Thirty-eight forged or fraudulent ballots have been thrown out, according to records at the Rensselaer County Board of Elections in Troy, N.Y. Enough votes, an election official admits, to likely have tipped the November election to the Democrats.
Brian Suozzo voted with an absentee ballot in the Working Families Party primary on Sept. 15 because, as his application stated, he was "at home recovering from medical procedure."
Jessica Boomhower's application said she would be attending a "work conference in Boston."
Michael Ward couldn't vote in person because he was "taking care of elderly parent."
Kimberlee Truell was on a "Bus trip to casino," as was Miguel Vazques.
The only problem with these absentee ballot records at the Rensselaer County Board of Elections in Troy, N.Y., is that they're phony, voters and investigators say and they've prompted what's being called an unprecedented investigation of suspected voter fraud.
Thirty-eight forged or fraudulent ballots have been thrown out enough votes, an election official admits, to likely have tipped the city council and county elections in November to the Democrats. Candidates would have been able to run both on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines in two weeks, and that could have given the Democrats the general election.
A special prosecutor is investigating the case and criminal charges are possible. New York State Supreme Court Judge Michael Lynch ruled that there were "significant election law violations that have compromised the rights of numerous voters and the integrity of the election process."
Among the reasons cited on the fraudulent forms for absentee voting: "traveling to Buffalo," attending a "screen printing conference in Syracuse," "working late shift," "working construction," and "home ill."
"Someone took my signature and voted with it and I felt extremely violated," Suozzo told Fox News. He is a soft-spoken 28-year-old environmental engineer who says he never saw, let alone signed, the Working Families Party Absentee ballot application that carried his supposed signature. He was flabbergasted that someone would vote for him and submit it.
"The whole thing seems dirty to me," Suzzo said. "You wonder how often this happens and people don't get caught."
He says he did not have any type of medical procedure, adding "I haven't been to the hospital in years."
"I feel that I was gypped," Boomhower said, ruefully. "I didn't get to cast my vote on my own."
Boomhower, a 28-year-old home health care worker, says three men came to her door asking her to sign a ballot application. It wasn't until after the election that a private investigator brought her the news that an absentee ballot indeed showed she had voted, when she actually had not.
"I can't believe they thought they would get away with this," she says angrily, noting that the false claim that she was in Boston could have jeopardized her job. "I don't want to see this get tossed aside," she told Fox News.
Michael Ward, whose ballot said he was taking care of an elderly parent, said "I got one parent left, and he lives in Albany and takes care of himself."
"They tried to steal an election," says Bob Mirch, the majority leader of the Rensselaer County legislature who suspected voter fraud and started the investigation after being alerted to a large number of absentee ballot application requests that were noticed by the Republican Board of Elections commissioner .
"Not only does it undermine the system, but if these people were allowed to do this, we could never have a fair election... I've been doing this for 35 years, when I saw this, it sends a chill through my body right now."
Mirch is a pugnacious veteran of the bruising county politics, a Conservative Party and Republican politician who is also Commissioner of Troy's Department of Public Works, which is why he relishes his sobriquet, "Bob, the Garbage Man." He brands local politics "a blood sport," in a city that in the 19th Century was once one of the country's wealthiest, has an abundance of elegant townhouses from that era, yet is often overshadowed by its neighbor Albany, the New York State capital. Campaign signs dot many front lawns, and it seems local political maneuvering is followed as closely as the Yankee playoffs. Mirch proudly admits he runs his own candidates in the left-leaning Working Families Party primaries to try and sap strength from the Democrats or gain the line for Republican candidates, but he insists he has never acted unlawfully, and blames his political opponents for doing just that.
"These Democrats and Working Families people couldn't bear taking another defeat at the hands of the garbage man, as I'm known in Troy, so they went out and took the law in their own hands to claim victory," he says.
"As soon as I heard it I was mad, disappointed, frustrated," says Troy Democratic Chairman Frank LaPosta. He blames what he calls "a rogue group of Democrats," and says what happened "is beyond comprehension."
LaPosta stood in his apron in his Italian salumeria, stocked with fresh delicacies and cuts of meat. He once ran for Mayor and appears genuinely wounded by the scandal.
"I believe we could have won without the Working Families Party line," he says. "To have something like this darken the election, its just an outrage for true Democrats in the city of Troy. This is not what the Democratic party in the city of Troy stands for," he said. "Some people think you have to have all the lines to win. I believe you have to have the issues to win."