Two men were charged with voter fraud in California last Tuesday. Election officials charged them for allegedly submitting 8,000 false voter registration applications. While the news came out recently, the incident happened much earlier. The Los Angeles County elections office uncovered the fraud attempts in October. Officers sent the case to prosecutors and arraignment for the pair happened Tuesday.
Carlos Antonio DeBourbon Montenegro received 41 counts, including eight for voter fraud. Also, he got charged with four counts of “procuring and offering a false forged instrument.” He also received four misdemeanors. They were for “interfering with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit.”
Meanwhile, Arevalo got eight counts of voter fraud and one for conspiracy to commit voter fraud. He also received four counts of procuring and offering a false or forged instrument. Additionally, he also got four counts for interfering with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit.
Running For Mayor
Carlos Antonio De Bourbon Montenegro, 53, wanted to become mayor of Hawthorne, California. He asked Arevalo to help him rig the voter’s list in his favor. The two men plotted to register 8,000 “fictitious, nonexistent or deceased” voters. The two received the mail-in ballots at Montenegro’s home address and three PO boxes. Montenegro is also accused of filing 32 fraudulent signatures on write-in candidate nominations. He did so to support his bid to run for mayor.
Hawthorne has a population of 86,000, including 44,000 registered voters. If successful, the pair’s scheme would increase voter count by 20%. However, Montenegro’s name did not make it to the ballot. This indicated officials got wind of the scheme before the elections.
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Between July to October, Montenegro launched an effort to get on the Hawthorne ballot. But, every time he submitted the required signatures, the city clerk threw out some of them. The clerk validated 18 of 41 names submitted. Afterward, he tried to become eligible as a write-in candidate. Again, the clerk rejected many of the submitted signatures.
Montenegro said he turned in a petition with more than 40 names. But, the clerk only qualified 18. He insisted he knew at least 20 people who signed the petition. “I’m trying to find out what I can do,” he said. “It just seems really strange.”
Checks and Balances
Los Angeles County Clerk Dean C. Logan is LA’s top election official. In a video call with NBC LA, he said “Our checks and balances worked. We detected the oddities in these forms. We identified that there was something off with that.” He added: “We reported it. It was investigated fairly quickly by our law enforcement.”
According to the criminal complaint, the suspects mailed twenty-nine vote-by-mail ballots in early October. Logan said that “as soon as we detected the suspicious nature of these, those were then flagged.” He added that even if these ballots returned, officials will identify them. Consequently, they would flag these ballots and withhold them from counting.
15 years in Prison
If Montenegro receives a conviction on all charges, he faces a sentence of 15 years and 8 months in prison. Attempts to contact Montenegro by phone did not succeed. Also, court records do not show an attorney assigned to him.
Meanwhile, Arevalo faces a seven-year prison term if convicted. During the arraignment, Montenegro and Arevalo both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Election experts believe that voter fraud is extremely rare. Logan affirmed that his office takes allegations of voter fraud with utmost seriousness. Hence, protecting the integrity of elections is paramount.
In a statement delivered Tuesday, Logan said: “Voters should ultimately have confidence that their votes are meaningful and will be counted, and that their institutions are secure. We will continue to be aggressive in seeking the prosecution of anyone who attempts to undermine these efforts and encourage residents to report any suspicious activity.”
Widespread Voter fraud or Isolated Incident?
The Los Angeles incident comes as President Trump claims widespread voter fraud. However, officials point to this case as an example of the difficulty of beating the system. Given Montenegro’s intentions to become Mayor, signs point to the latter. At the same time, Montenegro’s modus shows how voter fraud can be one negligent official away.
Watch this as News Now from FOX reports that Voter fraud is uncovered in California:
Do you think this episode of voter fraud in California is an isolated incident? Or, is it a part of systemic voter fraud? Let us know what you think by sharing your thoughts in the comment section below.