Former Philadelphia Judge of Elections Domenick J. DeMuro was upbraided by federal prosecutors on Thursday for admittedly committing electoral fraud in three separate primary elections.
“Our election system relies on the honesty and the integrity of its election officials,” the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William M. McSwain said in a press release. “If they are corrupt, the system is corrupt, which creates opportunities for election fraud and for the counting of fake votes.”
According to unsealed criminal charges, DeMuro stuffed ballot boxes in Philadelphia’s 39th Ward, 36th Division “for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections.” One charge resulted from those instances. A second and distinct charge was filed under the Travel Act.
That law, per McSwain, “forbids the use of any facility in interstate commerce (here, a cell phone) with the intent to promote certain illegal activity (here, bribery).”
DeMuro pleaded guilty to both charges.
In a Thursday press conference, McSwain laid out the details of the agreed-upon charges leveled against the defendant:
A political consultant gave DeMuro directions and paid him money to illegally add votes for certain Democratic candidates on the primary ballots in 2014, 2015, and 2016. These candidates were individuals running for judicial office whose campaigns had hired the consultant, as well as other candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices who were preferred by this consultant for a variety of reasons.
The political consultant is said to have solicited monetary payments from his clients in the form of cash or checks as “consulting fees.” The consultant would then take portions of these funds and make payments to Election Board Officials, including DeMuro, in return for DeMuro and other Election Board officials tampering with the election results.
“After receiving payments ranging from between $300 to $5,000 per election from the consultant, DeMuro would add fraudulent votes on the voting machine – also known as “ringing up” votes – for the consultant’s clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting and distorting the ballots cast by actual voters,” McSwain continued. “DeMuro would add these fraudulent votes to the totals during Election Day, and then would later falsely certify that the voting machine results were accurate. He would add the fraudulent votes by literally standing in the voting booth and voting over and over, as fast as he could, when he thought the coast was clear.”
The numbers of fraudulent ballots cast and stuffed by DeMuro were apparently not particularly voluminous–but substantial nonetheless. In May 2014, DeMuro copped to casting 27 fraudulent ballots. In May 2015, that number rose to 40 fraudulent ballots. And, in 2016, at the apex of his on-the-record ballot-stuffing, DeMuro cast a grand total of 46 fraudulent ballots.
DeMuro’s collective fraud efforts constituted 22% of the voting total in the first year; 15% of the voting total in the second year; and 17% of the voting total in the third year.
“But at the end of the day, the specific numbers don’t really matter,” McSwain waxed. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If only one vote has been illegally rung up or fraudulently stuffed into a ballot box, the integrity of that election is undermined.”
DeMuro pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond in March. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison.
[image via Mark Makela/Getty Images]
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