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Daily News: October 8, 2004: Vote scandal stench just keeps rising

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Posted by GET NY on 18:33:33 01/02/05

Vote scandal stench just keeps rising

Daily News
Friday, October 8, 2004

By Errol Louis

The worst thing about the voter scams being perpetrated in Queens is that nobody seems especially surprised or disturbed about them. So long as nobody bothers to punish what is clearly criminal behavior, the fraud will continue to spread.

Jump a subway turnstile to save $2, and you can reasonably expect to be arrested and hauled off in handcuffs. But add two, or 20, or 200 falsely registered "voters" to the public rolls - in what amounts to an attempt to steal part of our government - and you can expect to walk away scot-free.

In theory, executing or abetting a false voter registration is a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. But the last person criminally prosecuted for voting after a false registration was John O'Hara of Brooklyn, a lawyer indicted in 1996 for registering and voting from his girlfriend's house.

O'Hara was convicted, disbarred and sentenced to 1,500 hours of community service. Before him, the only New Yorker known to have been convicted for illegal voting was Susan B. Anthony, who cast a ballot in 1876 before women had the right to vote.

The latest, still-unfolding scandal in Queens involves businessman Jimmy Meng, who recently won the Democratic nomination for the Assembly seat in the 22nd District in Flushing.

As previously reported in this space, hundreds of people are illegally registered at commercial and industrial addresses in the district, including a commercial building on Roosevelt Ave. that is home to Meng's bookstore and campaign headquarters.

There also are instances in which more than a dozen people are registered at residences that plainly cannot house a platoon of adults.

Scan the actual voter registration forms, and it looks even worse. On scores of registrations in Meng's district, the addresses and phone numbers originally written on the form have been blanked out with the use of whiteout and new addresses printed in - many of them in the same person's handwriting.

The nicest thing you can say about the Meng mess is that it's not a unique instance of registration shenanigans in Queens. The Daily News reported yesterday that the city wasted $60,000 conducting an obscure write-in primary on the Working Families Party line in the 15th Senate District, which includes Middle Village and Howard Beach.

Only 11 people voted - and it turned out the alleged winner, Luis Rosero, doesn't even live in the district. The Board of Elections nullified the results this week.

Two years ago, an article in The New York Sun noted that the nominating petitions of Assemblywoman Ann Margaret Carozza of Bayside in June 2000 included one voter who had died in 1998.

Another signer had perished in 1995.

Signatures from the dead were no obstacle to Carozza's reelection - in fact, she didn't even have an opponent in 2000.

A thousand New York lawyers have pledged to travel to places like Florida for the November election to help ensure a fair, legal vote takes place in battleground states.

When the lawyers get back, they ought to go straight from the airports in Queens to the neighborhoods in the city where fraud appears to have passed from the turnstile jumping phase into something more troubling.



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