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San Francisco | Government & Elections

Absentee ballot fraud for Interim Mayor Ed Lee?
by Ann Garrison
Sunday Oct 23rd, 2011 10:47 AM
KPFA Weekend News, 10.22.2011:
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Screenshot from a video in which workers from an independent expenditure campaign committee, wearing Ed Lee for Mayor T-shirts, appear to hold a plastic stencil to guide voters marking their absentee ballots in San Francisco's Chinatown.
KPFA Weekend News Host Cameron Jones:  On Friday, two independent observers reported that they had seen workers for the SF Neighbor Alliance in San Francisco's Chinatown actually marking voters' absentee ballots for their San Francisco mayoral candidate, Interim Mayor Ed Lee. The workers had set up an unofficial voting booth by erecting a portable canopy bearing Ed Lee campaign signs over ironing boards. The SF Neighbor Alliance includes many of the same people who worked on the controversial "Run Ed Run" campaign to get Lee into the mayor's race even though he promised not to run, before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved his appointment by outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom in January.  KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story. KPFA/Ann Garrison: The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that two independent observers reported that workers from the SF Neighbor Alliance, an independent expenditure committee working to elect Interim Mayor Ed Lee, were actually filling in ballots for voters in Chinatown on Friday.  A third witness, Adam Keigwin, a staffer with State Senator Leland Yee's rival mayoral campaign, said that he saw the workers take voters’ absentee ballots, place stencils over them so that they could only mark the ballot for Lee, then seal the ballot in the official envelope and drop it in a bag, with no other picks for mayor marked. Voters have the chance to mark ballots for their first, second, and third choices in San Francisco's Instant Runoff Voting. Their second and third choices are counted if and when their first, and then their second choices, are eliminated.  So, one consequence of voters failing to mark a second and third choice on the ballot could be a victory for Interim Mayor Ed Lee. In 2010, Jean Quan won the Oakland mayoral election thanks to instant run-off voting, though former State Senator Don Perata won the most votes in the first round, as Interim Mayor Lee is expected to. Adam Keigwin spoke to KPFA this afternoon: Adam Keigwin: Well yesterday, what I witnessed was not only deeply concerning to Senator Yee and the other campaigns for mayor, but deeply concerning to, probably, most San Franciscans.  There were individuals on the sidewalk in Chinatown who were literally putting a stencil over the ballot, and the only possibility that an individual could mark was Ed Lee for Mayor. That was all they would do; that was the only race they would vote on, and then they'd seal the ballot and put it in bags behind them. What we're hearing out in the field is that individuals are filling out ballots for elderly Chinese.  This is a possible massive voter fraud. KPFA: The San Francisco Chronicle quoted SF Neighbor Alliance spokesman Enrique Pearce saying that the group's workers were engaged in voter registration and outreach, and, that the allegations were a political hit by their opponents. In the same report, the Chronicle quoted Ed Lee's campaign manager Tony Winnicker saying that the SF Neighbor Alliance workers do not represent Lee's campaign and asking them to, quote, "cease and desist immediately." A fourth witness, affiliated with anther rival mayoral campaign, shot video later in the day on Friday, which shows workers with blue Ed Lee shirts who appear to be holding a small, clear piece of plastic over different spots on the ballot but not actually marking the ballot for the voter. John Arntz, the head of San Francisco's election department, referred the allegations and video to Interim District Attorney George Gascón’s office for investigation, and requested civil legal advice.  Gascón is already investigating allegations that Go Lorrie's airport van company laundered donations to Lee's campaign, through employees, after a City ruling favorable to Go Lorrie's Vans with regard to airport parking. For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison.