Skip to comments.Dead-voter Scandal Rears Its Ugly Head (Memphis Watch for TN GOP)
Posted on 11/07/2006 5:10:15 AM PST by mcg2000
Teased by news of ballot troubles and potential fraud, Shelby County voters head to the polls today as an older and very real case of alleged voting fraud quietly heads back to court.
Three former county poll workers charged with faking votes from dead people will be in Criminal Court today -- Election Day -- when the role of a fourth, uncharged poll worker could become clearer.
"Paid Political Advertisement"When the workers were charged in June with helping Ophelia Ford eke out a 13-vote win over Terry Roland in last year's Dist. 29 state Senate special election, Markesha Hinton was just a footnote, named in indictments but never charged. As Ford and Roland square off today in a rematch, the dead-voting scandal goes back before Judge John Colton at 9 a.m., and Hinton's role could get a closer look.
Prosecutors say Hinton naively cast a fake vote in the September 2005 election at the direction of corrupt election workers who, indictments charge, also used two dead persons' names to cast ballots for Ford.
Newly obtained records show Hinton, who worked as an election official that day with the indicted poll crew, was on probation at the time for her part in a drug-dealing conspiracy. Her drug charge has since been dropped and expunged in accordance with a diversion deal.
Shelby County election officials hope new poll worker training, screening and recruitment will help restore voter confidence -- shaken again last week with the disappearance of electronic voting cards and a criminal probe opened after two people voted twice in early voting -- yet they still have difficulty attracting qualified poll workers. Some Election Day poll jobs still remained vacant Monday.
And despite the lessons of the dead-voting scandal, officials still aren't conducting criminal background checks on recruits.
"The only way we would ever get to that point is if they actually changed the law and required it,'' said Election Commissioner Richard Holden.
For her part, Hinton, 25, declined to say how it came that she used someone else's name to work the Sept. 15, 2005, election at North Memphis' now-defunct Precinct 27-1.
"I'd rather not even talk about that right now,'' Hinton told a reporter last week.
Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons said the drug case played no role in the decision to not charge Hinton with election fraud, yet others aren't so sure.
"We're looking at every and anyone who was involved as a possible responsible party,'' said Arthur E. Horne III, defense lawyer for Verline Mayo, one of the indicted poll workers. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Barring plea bargains, Horne said Hinton could emerge as a key witness at trial when the case's larger questions -- why would the poll workers fake votes and were they part of a larger conspiracy -- likely would be aired.
"I think the main person (prosecutors) want is Ms. Mayo,'' said Horne. His client maintains her innocence, and Horne said he will zealously defend her. That could mean pointing a finger at others, possibly Hinton.
According to indictments filed in June, Mayo and two co-defendants forged at least three votes while manning the Precinct 27-1 polling place, hoping to throw the election to Ford.
Citing fraud and voting irregularities, the Senate later voided the election and expelled Ford, though no evidence was found implicating her in wrongdoing.
Prosecutors haven't detailed evidence in the felony case, but say culpability ends with the three indicted poll workers. "Essentially, what that allegation in the indictment says is as supporters of Ms. Ford, they took it upon themselves to do certain things,'' Gibbons said.
Just what Hinton knows of all of this remains to be seen. Yet records obtained by The Commercial Appeal show she already was facing trouble at the time of the special election.
Hinton was serving a year of probation then for her admitted role in a drug dealing case. Hinton was arrested May 10, 2005, after officers caught her with 25 Ecstasy pills and 79 Xanax pills stuffed in plastic baggies and hidden in her bra.
In a diversion deal worked out with prosecutors in General Sessions Court, the charge was dismissed in August.
Her path to working that September at the Precinct 27-1 polling place is less clear.
Each election, local officials hire an army of poll workers -- citizens who man polling places, set up voting machines and screen voter qualifications. A roster shows the Shelby County Election Commission hired scores of workers for the Dist. 29 special election, but Hinton wasn't among them.
According to the indictments, Hinton signed poll worker sign-in sheets that day using the name LaToya Wilson, a relative who was approved by the Election Commission to work at 27-1. She also used Wilson's initials to approve voter ballot applications.
Indictments say Hinton also voted under Wilson's name. Hinton was registered to vote -- just not in Dist. 29. Voting records show Hinton lived in Dist. 28. Hinton did all of this at the direction of Mayo, 69, and co-defendant Gertrude Otteridge, 64, indictments charge.
Prosecutor Gibbons said Hinton's involvement was fundamentally different from that of the charged poll workers. "She was simply doing what she was asked to do,'' he said.
Like others nationwide, Shelby County has struggled to hire qualified poll workers. A newspaper investigation this year found the county has at times hired ex-convicts, prostitutes and drug users because it simply couldn't find others.
Working to change that, election officials are trying to tap corporations and community organizations to recruit qualified workers to fill Election Day positions that total 2,500 for today's elections. State law requires each of the county's 279 voting precincts to have both Republican and Democratic poll workers, yet as many as 81 precincts had staffed workers from just one party as of Oct. 30. Officials didn't have precise figures Monday, but said some posts remain open.
Still, new training efforts and oversight have officials optimistic. "We have increased confidence in the capabilities of our election officials,'' said commisioner Holden.
-- Marc Perrusquia: 529-2545
Election Fraud favors Ford in Tennessee.... not the first or last time that headline will occur.
Oh yes ... Memphis' nickname of "New Orleans Lite" is deserved in every way.
No mention of this in the mainstream media this morning.
If this involved, for instance, Rick Santorum and his family, is there any doubt that this would be saturated all over the morning news shows on this election day ?
Democrats can't win in a fair fight.
Ophelia Ford = democrat/won/dead people voted for her
Terry Roland = Republican/lost/should do more about this crap!
What is this naively thing ? Rotten for sure, but certainly not naive.
I've been hoping someone would post this. Notice the newspaper failed to mention Ophelia Ford was also indicted for taking bribes last legislative session?
Look for LOTS of voter fraud to be exposed after today. If Jr. wins this I will ask my state reps for an investigation.Since my representative for Tennessee, Lincoln Davis, is Ford's campaign manager I will be sending him this, and lots of other stories about the Fords.
I've already started my campaign to have Davis kicked out of office when his reelection comes up. He is the one Jr. said made the comments about Republicans fear God while Democrats love Him. He'll be reminded of this over and over, in heavily GOP east Tennessee.
Dead people voting in Memphis:
Clear fulfillment of Bible prophecy that the dead will rise again.
Ophelia wasn't indicted or even accused. The Ford;s always let others do their dirty work!!!!
That was her brother John, whose seat shet tried to fill.
She was indicted for taking bribes from an undercover agent in operation something or other last legislative session wasn't she?
Vote Early, Vote Often..........the Democrat way!
Election fraud is an old Memphis tradition going back to the days when the MPD would go around to business owners collecting "donations" for E.H. Crump.
You all are right. I thought it was her, but it was Kathryn Bowers. I apologize.
Five Current or Former Members of Tennessee General Assembly Indicted
Memphis, TN- Terrell L. Harris, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, My Harrison, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Memphis Division, Joe Clark, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Knoxville Division, and Mark Gwyn, Director, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announce today that five separate indictments have been returned by a federal grand jury against five current or former members of the Tennessee General Assembly and two other persons charging various crimes including: Conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C.371; Conspiracy to Extort and Attempted Extortion Under Color of Official Right in violation of 18 USC 1951; and /or Accepting Bribes by an Agent of the State of Tennessee in violation of 18 USC 666.
Conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371 carries a maximum period of incarceration of not more than five years; a fine of not more than $250,000 plus a period of supervised release. Conspiracy to Extort and Attempted Extortion Under Color of Official Right in violation of 18 USC 1951 carries a maximum period of incarceration of not more than twenty years; a fine of not more than $250,000, plus a period of supervised release. Accepting Bribes by an Agent of the State of Tennessee in violation of 18 U.S.C. 666 carries a maximum period of incarceration of not more than ten years, a fine of not more than $250,000, plus a period of supervised release.
Indicted are State Senator John Ford of Memphis, TN, former State Senator Roscoe Dixon of Memphis, former State Representative and current State Senator Kathryn Bowers of Memphis, State Senator Ward Crutchfield of Chattanooga, and State Representative Chris Newton of Cleveland, Tennessee. Also indicted were Barry Myers of Memphis and Charles Love of Chattanooga.
The indictments charge offenses as to each of these public officials and charge Barry Myers with aiding and abetting Roscoe Dixon and Kathryn Bowers and Charles Love with aiding and abetting Ward Crutchfield and Chris Newton in a scheme in which these public officials allegedly were paid in connection with a business which purportedly wished to have certain legislation passed which would have enabled it to profitably do business with the State of Tennessee.
The indictment against John Ford alleges that he received $55,000 in illegal payments from an undercover electronics business operated by the FBI. The payments were made to influence John Ford in his official duties in the Tennessee General Assembly to include his support of legislation favorable to the undercover business operation in the State of Tennessee.
Defendants, Roscoe Dixon and Barry Myers are charged with receiving $9,500 in illegal payments from an undercover electronics business operated by the FBI. The payments were made to influence Roscoe Dixon in his official duties in the Tennessee General Assembly to include his support of legislation favorable to the undercover business operation in the State of Tennessee.
Defendants Kathryn Bowers and Barry Myers are charged with receiving $11,500 in illegal payments from an undercover electronics business operated by the FBI. The payments were made to influence Kathryn Bowers in her official duties in the Tennessee General Assembly to include his support of legislation favorable to the undercover business operation in the State of Tennessee.
Defendants Ward Crutchfield and Charles Love are charged with receiving $12,000 in illegal payments from an undercover electronics business operated by the FBI. The payments were made to influence Ward Crutchfield in his official duties in the Tennessee General Assembly to include his support of legislation favorable to the undercover business operation in the State of Tennessee.
Defendants Chris Newton and Charles Love are charged with receiving $4,500 in illegal payments from an undercover electronics business operated by the FBI. The payments wee made to influence Chris Newton in his official duties in the Tennessee General Assembly to include his support of legislation favorable to the undercover business operation in the State of Tennessee.
State Senator John Ford is also charged with three counts of attempting to threaten and intimidate potential witnesses in violation of 18 U.S.C.1512. Obstruction of Justice in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1512 carries a maximum period of incarceration of not more than ten years; a fine of not more than $250,000, plus a period of supervised release.
These indictments are a result of an undercover operation, code named Tennessee Waltz, from 2003 to the present. The investigation was led by the Memphis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and included the Knoxville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The investigation was conducted by agents from the Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville FBI offices along with agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and with the cooperation and assistance of the United States Attorney=s Offices in the Middle and Eastern Districts of Tennessee. Assistant United States Attorney Tim DiScenza is prosecuting the case for the government.
I knew that it would eventually come to me. Kathryn Bowers.
I am embarrassed. You are right and I was wrong.
Anyway, I sent the Commercial Appeal article to Fox, CNN and MSNBC this morning, bet we won't see a word of this on the news though.
I also sent it to Lincoln Davis, my congressman and Ford Jr's campaign manager, the one Ford said told him the "Democrats love God, while Republicans fear him."
When Davis comes up for reelection, I want to see to it he hears that over and over, especially over here in heavily Republican east Tennessee.
Don't be embarrassed! There is so much to keep up with, we all get it wrong sometimes.
You two anchors of Tennessee are getting it worked out. Maria in the West and you in the East
And all of the dead voters seem to reside at the Ford Family Funeral Home.
"The only way we would ever get to that point is if they actually changed the law and required it,'' said Election Commissioner Richard Holden."
Common sense apparently being an insufficient reason to do anything in Shelby County.