A Staten Island grand jury is calling for changes to the state’s election laws after recently finding numerous cases of voting fraud in a race for city council last year, the New York Post reported.
Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon has released the 38-page grand jury report requesting changes to state laws.
“This report should alarm all those involved in the electoral process in Staten Island and in the city and state of New York, including the general voting public,” McMahon said.
The report, which does not specify which race the voting fraud was found in, stated it did not have enough evidence to convict anyone of fraud.
It recommended several changes to New York’s voting laws, including requiring voters to present government-issued ID when voting at the polls or absent.
The grand jury also requested that local election commissions should have qualified experts conduct forensic document examination of the signatures of absentee ballots.
In addition, the report proposed banning absentee ballots and applications from being mailed to addresses associated with a candidate’s campaign.
What are the details of the investigation?
According to the New York Post, sources said the grand jury was investigating the 2021 Staten Island City Council GOP primary between candidates Marko Kepi and David Carr. The election, which took place on June 22, resulted in a narrow victory for Mid-Island Councilman Carr.
“This case is the poster child for the need for voter identity laws,” Carr told the news outlet. “Unfortunately, the real victims here are the hundreds of residents whose identities and votes have been stolen. And this will happen again until our state legislature takes election integrity and security seriously.”
Kepi faced allegations of vote fraud in the weeks leading up to Election Day. In early June 2021, Carr wrote a letter to McMahon asking his office to investigate Kepi for allegedly conducting an illegal ballot harvesting and counterfeiting operation.
Carr alleged that Kepi registered a deceased man to vote for him, leading to the investigation into Kepi’s campaign.
The report stated: “This Grand Jury finds that an absentee ballot with the forged signature of a deceased individual has been submitted to the Board of Directors [of Elections]designating a CANDIDATE 2 campaign staffer, STAFFER 1, as the authorized collector of his absentee ballot.”
“The person who died was a man who passed away in mid-2020. However, in May 2021, the council processed a voter registration form supposedly signed by him with his family tree information, including his date of birth and the last four digits of his social security number, but identified his gender as female,” the report continued.
The grand jury concluded that the documents were forged. The investigation also revealed 200 “mismatched” or suspicious signatures on absentee ballots submitted by Kepi’s campaign staff and volunteers. It noted that staffers had submitted more than 1,000 absentee ballots, many of which were unsigned.
According to the report, the vote fraud did not affect the outcome of the election. It noted, however, that “the abundant opportunities for unscrupulous candidates … to abuse the system without probable detection or criminal sanction call for redress.”
“While I fully support making voting as easy as possible and applaud the efforts of candidates and their campaigns to inspire voters to express their constitutional right to vote, the accuracy, safety and public confidence in our elections are never sacrificed in pursuit of these goals,” McMahon said.
“Personally, I do not believe that the outcome of this particular primary was affected by the misconduct found by the Grand Jury. However, the report does provide an opening to consider many possible scenarios where results could be compromised if no action is taken.
Kepi did not respond to a request for comment, the New York Post reported.
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