It sounds like fake news from a dodgy website that’d get flagged on Facebook.
But it’s not. It’s a former political fixer describing how he used to perpetrate voter fraud via mail-in ballots.
In a piece published Aug. 29, Jon Levine of the New York Post interviewed the well-connected fraudster, who described schemes ranging from expropriating ballot envelopes to stealing votes from nursing homes.
The piece takes on added resonance for obvious reasons: The fact that the number of mail-in ballots is going to increase exponentially due to COVID-19, as well as the ability of local boards of elections to handle the increased ballots, have become matters of contention.
President Donald Trump has been adamant that the potential for voter fraud exists, while the Democrats — and the media, for the most part — have called it misinformation.
The “top Democratic operative” cited in the Post’s report is anonymous because admitting to mass voter fraud tends to put one in a compromising position with the authorities.
What we do know is that he’s from New Jersey, a state which recently gifted Trump an in-kind donation with what’s alleged to be a blundering attempt to steal a city council election.
That election was invalidated by a judge in late August.
If you do it right, however, things can go pretty smoothly.
The operative’s “dirty work has taken him through the weeds of municipal and federal elections in Paterson, Atlantic City, Camden, Newark, Hoboken and Hudson County and his fingerprints can be found in local legislative, mayoral and congressional races across the Garden State,” the Post reported.
“Some of the biggest names and highest office holders in New Jersey have benefited from his tricks, according to campaign records The Post reviewed.”
Pretty much all of the locales mentioned are Democratic strongholds, but anyone familiar with the state that inspired “On the Waterfront” knows jockeying for position within the Democratic Party can be a pretty brutal business.
While massive voter fraud is difficult to pull off, small-stakes fraud is pretty easy to do, the insider told the Post — and that can be all you need.
“An election that is swayed by 500 votes, 1,000 votes — it can make a difference,” he said. “It could be enough to flip states.”
“There is no race in New Jersey — from city council to United States Senate — that we haven’t worked on,” he added. “I worked on a fire commissioner’s race in Burlington County. The smaller the race, the easier it is to do.”
Even scarier: “The [whistleblower] — whose identity, rap sheet and long history working as a consultant to various campaigns were confirmed by The Post — says he not only changed ballots himself over the years, but led teams of fraudsters and mentored at least 20 operatives in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — a critical 2020 swing state.”
So, how is it done?
One way is stealing the ballots, according to the insider. The ballot itself is pretty easy stuff, given that there are no security features on it — “I just put [the ballot] through the copy machine and it comes out the same way,” the Post’s source said — but the return envelope is “more secure than the ballot. You could never recreate the envelope.”
So, he would get people to pretend to be ballot harvesters, going out and knocking on doors, offering to mail in voters’ ballots for them as an act of charity. Once his operatives had the envelope, it was as easy as holding it over boiling water.
“You have to steam it to loosen the glue,” the source said. After it was loosened, they’d then stuff it with the fraudulent ballot and seal it back up.
“Five minutes per ballot tops,” he said.
But they had to make sure to put the ballots in different mailboxes around town so as to not draw attention. The alleged Keystone Cops-esque Paterson fraudsters, he noted, only put them in three different mailboxes.
“If they had spread them in all different mailboxes, nothing would have happened,” he said.
According to the insider, there are other people willing to help commit voter fraud as well, including postal workers.
“You have a postman who is a rabid anti-Trump guy and he’s working in Bedminster or some Republican stronghold. … He can take those [filled-out] ballots, and knowing 95 percent are going to a Republican, he can just throw those in the garbage,” the operative said.
He said they had people on the inside in nursing homes.
“There are nursing homes where the nurse is actually a paid operative. And they go room by room by room to these old people who still want to feel like they’re relevant,” the source said. “[They] literally fill it out for them.”
In this department, he pointed to former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann, a rather pathetic figure who was convicted of savings-and-loan fraud.
At a news conference, McCann said he would send the prosecuting attorney “back to preparing wills. Maybe I can find him a job driving a sanitation truck in Jersey City,” according to The New York Times.
McCann was convicted and later returned to politics in a small way by getting elected to Jersey City’s school board — though a lawsuit from the losing candidate later claimed he’d defrauded “incompetent … and ill” individuals in nursing homes into voting for him.
McCann insists he didn’t trick anyone but did admit that he assisted some residents with filling the ballots out.
McCann eventually ended up in a job with the city’s incinerator authority, which meant he was inspecting trash. The guy he promised to have driving the sanitation truck was Michael Chertoff, who would go on to become the second Department of Homeland Security head under George W. Bush.
Sometimes decency wins. But I digress.
As it pertains to the candidates themselves, the insider insisted they weren’t informed so as to maintain “plausible deniability.”
As for making sure the ballots weren’t rejected, he said they were also in league with local Democratic Party officials and that he’d bend the corner of the voter certificate, which comes with the ballot, so they knew to give it the thumbs-up.
“Until the [certificate] is approved, the ballot doesn’t matter. They don’t get to see the ballot unless they approve the [certificate],” he said.
“I invented bending corners,” the insider boasted, saying once the fixed ballots were mixed in with the normal ones, the bed was made. “Once a ballot is opened, it’s an anonymous ballot.”
This wasn’t just mail-in vote fraud, mind you. He also described bribing voters and having his underlings impersonate other people at polling places. However, that’s going to matter a lot less this year.
Talking to Fox News about the article, Levine said the operative was “a very serious guy in New Jersey” who “has a very long track record with some of the biggest politicians in that state.”
“Once he started talking and once it came from the horse’s mouth, it was both … revealing, but also chilling,” Levine said.
As for the nursing home scam: “This has been called ‘granny harvesting’ in the past,” Levine said.
“They don’t even have to steam it open because the nurse is on the payroll and then they just go and the nurse gives a stack of ballots, it’s like, ‘Hello, we’re going to do the ballot together,’ and then it’s both fraud and it’s elder abuse frankly.”
New Jersey is an exceptionally dirty state as these things go. I know, I grew up in the Garden State. The best way to sum up the political climate there succinctly is this headline from a May 2019 NJ.com story: “A Jersey tradition: Mayors indicted over the past decade, and what happened to them.”
That being said, politics everywhere isn’t a particularly clean game. Whether or not we should believe this operative’s story is one thing; whether these sorts of things can be replicated in swing states is another.
For whatever it’s worth, the operative says he’s a Bernie Sanders supporter who has no particular skin in the game this time. (That’s a curious choice of candidate support for a gentleman with this record, one must note.)
What he wanted to get across, apparently, is what we’re in for come Election Day.
“This is a real thing,” the insider said. “And there is going to be a f—ing war coming Nov. 3 over this stuff. … If they knew how the sausage was made, they could fix it.”
Except for this purported whistleblower, Democrats don’t even want to acknowledge that mail-in voter fraud — even if it’s small-scale — could happen.
The problem is that in an election where margins could be razor-thin, small-scale could make a huge difference.
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