Man posing as cop cast extra ballot on stadium

Lance Williams
from The San Francisco Examiner

Note: Commentary from the "Stadium Vote Fraud Letter" in bold

San Francisco officials are trying to track down an unknown man who apparently posed as a police officer to vote in last week's 49ers stadium election while the officer himself was voting by absentee ballot at the Elections Office.

What a waste of investigative time!

Why not inquire into how the perpetrator knew that this particular police officer was stationed at the Elections Office and therefore might not be able to vote at a polling station.

The incident, which occurred at a polling place in the Richmond District, is the first case of apparent voter fraud uncovered in the extraordinarily close vote on whether The City should write $100 million worth of bonds to help build the football team a new stadium.

The 49ers measure won by only about 1,000 votes, and stadium opponents have complained bitterly about alleged improprieties in the election.

"Bitterly"? What's bitter about pointing out the obvious?

Registrar of Voters Germaine Wong said Monday she had referred the case of the mystery voter to District Attorney Terence Hallinan for investigation.

"We got this report, and we think it is serious enough to turn over to the DA," she said.

Spokesman John Shanley said the district attorney would investigate the matter. He declined further comment.

Using another person's name to vote is felony voter fraud, punishable by a term in state prison.

And the penalty for organizing a voter fraud campaign? What's that?

The policeman whose name was used, Officer William Griffin, was unable to vote at his regular polling place in the Richmond last Tuesday because he had been assigned to provide security at the Elections Office.

"It just so happened that I had been detailed to the registrar of voters, so I voted by absentee there," Griffin said. "I voted right in front of Germaine Wong."

Toy store vote

But while Griffin was downtown, an unknown man turned up at his polling place, signed the officer's name and voted.

Voters are not generally required to present identification before voting.

Griffin, who works out of Southern Station on Bryant Street, said he had learned about the incident Thursday from a deputy registrar who said he was investigating the double vote.

The polling place was at a toy shop on Balboa Avenue called Blue Planet Collectibles. It was supervised by a city engineering department employee, Vincent Wong, who said that under terms of a city program he had received his regular pay to spend election day working at the polls.

Wong said he had observed nothing untoward on election day.

"Everything went fine," he said.

Really? How did sealed boxes of ballots get wet?

The owner of the toy shop, Fred Orozco, said election workers had seemed diligent to him, even forbidding him from wearing a T-shirt with a small 49ers logo on it when he came in the store.

"I know the election workers were really trying," he said. "If there was fraud, it was on the part of the person who did it."

And whoever sent him there and paid him to vote.

In any event, no one is blaming the election workers. Why bring this up? The issue of "incompetent city workers" does create a great out in case widespread fraud is uncovered. Brown has seen fit to criticize Muni workers and city sanitation workers for city government failings. I guess election workers are fair game too.

At the polling place, the stadium-bond measure won only 45 percent approval, according to election data.

What's the point here? The fradulent vote didn't matter?

Kopp urges state investigation

State Sen. Quentin Kopp, I-San Francisco, who opposed the stadium measure, said he had asked Hallinan to seek help from the state attorney general's voter fraud unit in checking out allegations of fraudulent voting in the election.

Kopp said his interest in the issue transcended his views on the stadium.

"The fraud, the criminality, boy, that's serious," he said. "You have to root it out and prosecute it."

Yes, but who are you going to go after, an untraceablele mystery man or a complete top to bottom investigation?

Stadium opponents have been riled since the weekend before the election, when the registrar opened polling places in four housing projects that ultimately gave huge majorities to the stadium measures.

Secretary of State Bill Jones ordered an inquiry into the move, which the registrar's office said was part of a nonpolitical effort to boost turnout in areas where it was chronically low.

Stadium opponents also have said they've heard complaints about other alleged irregularities, including election officials allegedly wearing 49ers gear in polling places, and pro-stadium campaign workers allegedly approaching voters inside polling places and urging them to vote for the measure.

Opponents said they were suspicious about what they described as a sudden and dramatic change in the lead as votes were counted Tuesday night. After trailing all evening, the measure surged ahead in a final vote count distributed after 11 p.m.

Despite the complaints, Registrar Wong said the election had run smoothly.

Yeah, we heard this already. Ballot boxes open before arriving at the counting place, fraudulent votes, "special" polling places set up in housing project. Sounds great.

"This election we got fewer calls of complaints and fewer letters than usual," she said.

I find this hard to believe.