Concerns of Voter Fraud 'Unsubstantiated'; Three Western Pennsylvania District Attorneys Said Monday That There Have Been Very Few or No Issues of Voter Fraud in Their Counties over the Last Two Decades, and Tamped Down Concerns Raised by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump about a "Rigged" Election in November. [Derived Headline]

By Tom Fontaine; Matthew Santoni | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 17, 2016 | Go to article overview

Concerns of Voter Fraud 'Unsubstantiated'; Three Western Pennsylvania District Attorneys Said Monday That There Have Been Very Few or No Issues of Voter Fraud in Their Counties over the Last Two Decades, and Tamped Down Concerns Raised by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump about a "Rigged" Election in November. [Derived Headline]


Tom Fontaine; Matthew Santoni, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Three Western Pennsylvania district attorneys said Monday that there have been very few or no issues of voter fraud in their counties over the last two decades, and tamped down concerns raised by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump about a "rigged" election in November.

"There has been a great deal of unsubstantiated and reckless political rhetoric regarding voter fraud and 'rigged' polling places, specifically involving the major cities of Pennsylvania," Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said in a statement.

Zappala, a Democrat who became district attorney in 1998, said 2003 was the last time officials referred a voter-fraud case to his office.

"The handful of referrals that have been received under this administration have all involved either a voter using an incorrect address for registration purposes or the forgery of absentee ballots," Zappala said.

Trump has been raising concerns both on the campaign trail and on Twitter about potential voter fraud. At many recent rallies, Trump has told his supporters to go to "other communities" and watch the polls for fraud, which some critics -- and some supporters -- interpreted as an invitation to intimidate voters.

Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen said his deputies are the first responders to any reports of trouble at the polls. Most issues in the past have been small, like handouts claiming endorsements that candidates hadn't received; campaigns giving away food; or supporters being loud, abusive or violating the radius around the polls where electioneering is prohibited.

No allegations of intimidation have ever resulted in a prosecution, Mullen said. Any problems or confrontations at polling places that can't be handled by a deputy are brought back to a judge tasked with hearing election disputes, who can issue a court order to address the problem, the sheriff said.

Mullen declined to say whether the claims of rigged elections and watching polls for irregularities will change how the Sheriff's Office deploys for the upcoming election, but noted that after the weekend firebombing of a North Carolina Republican Party office in Hillsborough, Orange County, his office will be "preparing for the worst."

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said his office had only prosecuted about a half-dozen election violations during his 22 years there, and most involved voters living in one municipality who were registered and voting in another.

Like Zappala, the last case Peck recalled was also in 2003, when Mark Cosentino was convicted of registering to vote from his childhood home in Lower Burrell and casting his ballots in that township's 2001 election -- despite having moved to Allegheny Township in 1993. Cosentino was sentenced to six months of probation, which was upheld on appeals to the Commonwealth and Supreme courts of Pennsylvania.

Peck said those kinds of cases can affect one or two votes, but widespread or systemic fraud was not an issue. …

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Concerns of Voter Fraud 'Unsubstantiated'; Three Western Pennsylvania District Attorneys Said Monday That There Have Been Very Few or No Issues of Voter Fraud in Their Counties over the Last Two Decades, and Tamped Down Concerns Raised by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump about a "Rigged" Election in November. [Derived Headline]
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