A Philadelphia elections judge and Democratic Party official pleaded guilty Thursday to stuffing ballot boxes in favor of Democratic candidates in elections in 2014, 2015 and 2016, while collecting thousands of dollars in cash to make the changes.
Prosecutors hinted at an even broader conspiracy by an unnamed “political consultant” who charged his clients “consulting fees” and then used some of the money to pay off multiple Election Board officials.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia won Thursday’s guilty plea from Domenick J. DeMuro, who served as a judge of elections, responsible for overseeing a polling place during voting. DeMuro was also a Democratic Party ward chairman.
He charged up to $5,000 an election to ring up votes for the political consultant’s clients.
Prosecutors said DeMuro stuffed the ballot box in elections for judicial candidates as well as for those running for federal, state and local offices.
“DeMuro fraudulently stuffed the ballot box by literally standing in a voting booth and voting over and over, as fast as he could, while he thought the coast was clear,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. If even one vote is fraudulently rung up, the integrity of that election is compromised.”
Mr. McSwain said the investigation is ongoing.
DeMuro pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights and violating the Travel Act by using a cellphone, in interstate commerce, to promote illegal activity — in this case bribery.
According to court documents, DeMuro added dozens of votes in multiple elections.
In one primary election on April 26, 2016, DeMuro turned in to the city a receipt showing 266 ballots were cast on two voting machines in the city’s 39th Ward, 36th Division. In fact, only 220 voters showed up to vote.
Similar scenes played out in primary elections in 2014 and 2015, according to the court filings.
The guilty plea comes amid an ongoing debate about the extent of election fraud, with President Trump arguing it’s widespread — particularly balloting by those not eligible to vote.
Thursday’s case involves ghost voting — creating support where it didn’t exist at all.
Election integrity watchdog Public Interest Legal Foundation praised the Trump administration for pursuing the case.
“The Trump administration’s prosecution of election fraud stands in stark contrast to the total failure of the Obama Justice Department to enforce these laws,” said J. Christian Adams, head of PILF.
Mr. Adams said other U.S. attorneys are tracking cases of double-voting and noncitizen voting, and he said they should move quickly to prosecute those crimes.