The History of Election Fraud in America is Still Being Written
Electoral corruption has been a persistent issue in the United States since its inception, with numerous instances of political machines and corrupt practices emerging throughout the country’s history. Tammany Hall, the infamous Democratic political machine that was possibly at it’s peak under Boss Tweed in New York City in the 19th century, is perhaps one of the most well-known examples of systemic electoral corruption. That behemoth operation began in the 1790s and continued for nearly two centuries, with its influence persisting into the 1960s. However, the history of election fraud continues to be written. As much as the voter fraud denial industry insists it’s strictly a problem of the past, it is clearly a large and evolving problem in modern times, and there have been recent examples of political machines and conspiracies that resemble Tammany Hall.
Ike Brown and Noxubee County, Mississippi
One more recent example of a corrupt political machine along the lines of Tammany Hall is the conspiracy led by Ike Brown in Mississippi, which was uncovered in the early 2000s. Brown was the chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee in Noxubee County, a predominantly African American county in Mississippi, and had held the position for over a decade. He was also in charge of primary elections and his influence permeated the entire county’s elections department. Under Brown’s leadership, the Democratic Party in Noxubee County engaged in a range of corrupt practices, including voter intimidation, ballot tampering, and the manipulation of voter rolls.
Brown used his position to control the outcome of elections in Noxubee County, ensuring that only candidates that he approved of were elected to office. He used a range of tactics to suppress the vote of white voters as well as African Americans who weren’t supportive of Brown’s preferred (always black) candidates. That suppression included tactics like requiring voters to fill out unnecessary forms and providing false information about voting requirements. Brown also manipulated the voter rolls to remove individuals who he believed would not vote for his preferred candidates and invalidated absentee ballots without legal cause to do so.
In 2005, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Brown and the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, alleging that they had engaged in a pattern of discrimination against white voters and candidates. The lawsuit claimed that Brown had engaged in a range of illegal activities, including intimidating voters, providing “improper voter assistance,” fraudulent ballot harvesting, tampering with ballots, and manipulating the voter rolls.
In 2007, a federal court found Brown and the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee guilty of violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in voting practices. The court issued an injunction against Brown and the committee, prohibiting them from engaging in further discriminatory practices. The court also appointed a monitor to oversee future elections in Noxubee County.
The results of the lawsuit against Brown and Noxubee County demonstrate the persistence of electoral corruption in the United States. The case also highlights the importance of both governmental and citizen oversight to ensuring that elections are free and fair and that the rights of all voters are protected.
Michael “Ozzie” Myers of Philadelphia
Another Modern Day Tammany Hall (albeit on a somewhat smaller scale) began to unravel in Phillidelphia with an investigation into an election judge who ultimately admitted to stuffing the ballot box in his precinct.
Domenick J. Demuro the election judge who was convicted in 2020 for multiple counts of voter fraud in Philadelphia used several methods to add illegitimate votes to the tally in his jurisdiction. He manipulated electronic machines, falsified summaries and certifications and literally stood in a voting booth filling out ballots as fast as he could to stuff into the ballot box the old fashioned way.
Demuro’s feverish voter fraud output, it was discovered, was part of a funded and organized scheme that had gone on for at least six years in Philly and undoubtedly influenced election results as it was carefully orchestrated to do so.
Demuro, it turned out, was working for and acting under orders from a former congressman, turned political “consultant,” by the name of Michael “Ozzie” Myers and it was soon revealed that he wasn’t the only election official in Myers’ employ.
Myers also conspired to commit election fraud with an elections judge for the 39th Ward, 2nd Division in South Philadelphia. Marie Beren was charged separately and pled guilty. She was the de facto head of elections and effectively ran the polling places in her division by installing close associates to serve as members of the Board of Elections.
Myers ultimately admitted that he gave Beren directions to add votes to candidates supported by him, including candidates for judicial office whose campaigns actually hired Myers, and other candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices preferred by Myers for a variety of reasons.
Myers acknowledged in court that on almost every Election Day, he drove Beren to open the polls. During the drive to the polling place, Myers told Beren which candidates he was supporting so that Beren knew which candidates should be receiving fraudulent votes. Inside the polling place and while the polls were open, Beren would advise actual in-person voters to support Myers’ candidates and also cast fraudulent votes in support of Myers’ preferred candidates on behalf of voters she knew wouldn’t be turning up at the polls (or who hadn’t by the time the polls closed).
During Election Day itself, Myers conferred with Beren by cell phone while she was at the polling place about the number of votes cast for his preferred candidates. Beren would report to Myers how many “legit votes,” meaning actual voters, had appeared at the polls and cast ballots. If actual voter turnout was high, Beren would add fewer fraudulent votes in support of Myers’ preferred candidates.
From time to time, Myers would instruct Beren to shift her efforts from one of his preferred candidates to another. Specifically, Myers would instruct Beren “to throw support” behind another candidate during Election Day if he concluded that his first choice was comfortably ahead.
Beren and her accomplices from the Board of Elections would then falsify the voter roster by recording the names, party affiliation, and order of appearances for voters who had not physically appeared at the polling station to cast his or her ballot in the election.
Beren took pains to ensure that the number of ballots cast on the machines was a reflection of the number of voters signed into the roster. After the polls closed on Election Day, Beren and her associates would falsely certify the results.
For his part leading the conspiracy, Myers ultimately made a deal and pled guilty to conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights, bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election for orchestrating schemes to fraudulently stuff the ballot boxes for specific Democrat candidates in the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Pennsylvania elections.
[The stories of Ike Brown and Michael “Ozzie” Myers along with many others are told in Dan McGrath’s book, The Voter Fraud Manual.]
Election Corruption Takes Many Forms
The issue of electoral corruption is not limited to one political party or geographic location. In fact, it is a systemic problem that affects elections at all levels of government, from local school boards to national elections. While some cases of electoral corruption may be more extreme than others, they all undermine the integrity of the electoral process and the democratic principles that underpin it.
Another example of modern electoral corruption in the United States is the practice of gerrymandering, which involves redrawing electoral districts to give one political party an advantage over another. Gerrymandering is used by both political parties to manipulate the electoral process, and it has become increasingly sophisticated with the use of advanced mapping technology.
In recent years, there have been numerous instances of gerrymandering across the United States, with some states redrawing electoral maps to benefit the party in power. In Wisconsin, for example, the Republican Party redrew the state’s electoral map in 2011 to give themselves an advantage in future elections. The redistricting plan was challenged in court, and in 2016, a federal court ruled that it was unconstitutional and ordered the state to redraw the maps.
The practice of gerrymandering undermines the democratic process by ensuring that one political party has an unfair advantage over another, particularly to maintain the status quo and perpetuate the power of the party currently in power.
The impact of electoral corruption on democracy is significant, as it can lead to the election of candidates who do not represent the will of the people. It can also erode public trust in the electoral process, leading to a lack of confidence in the legitimacy of elected officials and the government as a whole. In addition, electoral corruption can perpetuate systemic inequalities and discrimination.
Solutions for Election Integrity
To address the issue of electoral corruption, there are a range of potential solutions that can be implemented at the local, state, and federal levels. These include:
- Increasing transparency in the electoral process, such as through the use of open-source voting systems, public access to election registration and voter data and public disclosure of campaign contributions.
- Implement a system of positively verifying the identity of all voters, including those who vote by mail.
- Conducting regular and thorough audits of electoral systems to identify potential areas of vulnerability or concern and implementing appropriate modern security measures.
- Promoting public awareness and education about the importance of free and fair elections, including the impact of electoral corruption on democracy. The solution to a lack of public confidence in the nation’s election systems isn’t more propaganda insisting there’s no problem. It’s having an honest discussion and coming up with bipartisan solutions to evolving threats to the democratic process.
Ultimately, addressing the issue of electoral corruption requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including elected officials, advocacy groups, and the public. By working together to ensure that elections are free, fair, and accessible to all voters, we can help to strengthen democracy and promote a more equitable society for all. Making it easy to vote and making it hard to cheat are not mutually exclusive concepts. We can definitely achieve both, and find rational compromises if the various factions meet in a true spirit of reason and honesty.