If you’re a Democrat in South Philadelphia and didn’t vote early and/or often enough, don’t worry. Prosecutors say that Domenick J. DeMuro had you covered.
DeMur0, 73, is a former judge of elections for the 39th ward, 36th district in Philly. It’s both an elected office and a paid position.
It didn’t pay enough for DeMuro, however, since he’s since admitted to receiving payments in return for stuffing the ballot box in favor of certain candidates.
A Thursday media release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said that DeMuro “has been charged and has pled guilty to a two-count Information charging (1) conspiracy to deprive Philadelphia voters of their civil rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections, and (2) a violation of the Travel Act, which forbids the use of any facility in interstate commerce (here, a cell phone) with the intent to promote certain illegal activity (here, bribery).”
According to the letter, the scheme worked likes this: Each voting machine would produce a receipt showing how many votes went to whom. Judge DeMuro was one of the people who was supposed to attest to the accuracy of the receipt.
That’s not exactly what DeMuro did, however.
“During his guilty plea hearing, DeMuro admitted that an unnamed political consultant gave DeMuro directions and paid him money to illegally add votes for certain Democratic candidates,” the media release said. “These candidates were individuals running for judicial office whose campaigns had hired the consultant, as well as other candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices who were preferred by this consultant for a variety of reasons.”
DeMuro would receive between $300 to $5,000 for tampering with the results, the news release said.
“Our election system relies on the honesty and the integrity of its election officials. If they are corrupt, the system is corrupt, which creates opportunities for election fraud and unfortunately the counting of fake votes,” U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said during a news conference this week.
McSwain wasn’t the only one weighing in on DeMuro’s electoral malfeasance.
“This defendant abused his office by engaging in election fraud for profit,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski said. “Today’s conviction makes it clear that the Department of Justice will do all in its power to protect the integrity of elections and maintain public confidence in all levels of elected government.”
“Domenick DeMuro put a thumb on the scale for certain candidates, in exchange for bribes,” said Michael J. Driscoll, special agent in charge of the Philadelphia division of the FBI.
“As public trust in the electoral process is vital, the FBI’s message today is clear: election interference of any kind, by hostile foreign actors or dishonest local officials, won’t be tolerated. This is an active, ongoing investigation and we’re asking anyone with information on election fraud to contact the FBI.”
“The citizenry of the City of Philadelphia, as well as this Commonwealth and these United States, needs to be confident in the integrity of our elections,” added Captain Leo Hannon, director of the Pennsylvania State Police, Special Investigations Division.
“As this investigation clearly illustrates, the Pennsylvania State Police will relentlessly pursue any breach of the sacred trust bestowed upon our public officials. Our agency is proud to partner with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the United States Department of Justice as a whole to root out corruption at any level of our government. Matters of public corruption and public integrity have been, and shall remain, a top priority of the Pennsylvania State Police.”
But wait — I thought there weren’t issues with election fraud. The Democrats have vouchsafed that to us.
In fact, I swore this was the primary argument when issues like ballot-harvesting and vote-by-mail came up. Could Republicans prove ballot fraud? If not, they ought to shut up and just let progress march on.
Meanwhile, when cases like this do pop up, we’re assured they’re limited.
So what happens when one or two limited cases affect an election?
It’s becoming painfully clear that if a state didn’t have a robust, foolproof vote-by-mail infrastructure in place at the beginning of this health crisis, they’re not going to have one in time for November’s election, no matter what they do.
But, meanwhile, we’re repeatedly told cases like this have no bearing on what would happen in November.
No, the case of Domenick DeMuro isn’t necessarily indicative of what might happen if vote-by-mail comes to pass in more states.
However, it shows that there’s still plenty of corruption within the system. Rest assured that DeMuro is hardly the only individual involved these kinds of shenanigans.
When we can’t root out corruption in our system as it currently exists, how are we going to extirpate it from a novel form of voting we don’t even have a handle on yet?
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