Reform Democrats claim widespread voter fraud in Hasidic Williamsburg
New Kings Democrats, a progressive group in Brooklyn, is going public with accusations of voter fraud they say they documented during the primaries in New York last week.
Those accusations center on one heavily populated polling location in Williamsburg, where more than 3,300 votes were cast among eight election districts, all located in one school auditorium.
The vote here is important, since it could determine the winner of a closely fought district-leader race between New Kings member Lincoln Restler and Chris Olechowski, a Vito Lopez ally who got most of his 6,000 votes from that part of the district.
Accusations include disseminating voter material inside the restricted area and, more seriously, not barring voters from looking directly in voter registration books, rather than giving their name and date of birth to poll workers. By looking directly into the voter registration books, a person could, potentially, see the name of a voter who has not signed in, and claim to be that person, the New Kings Democrats argued.
Their complaint was distributed to reporters today and a letter was also sent to the office of the Brooklyn District Attorney, and the Department of Investigations.
Before the complains were made public, two members of New Kings Democrats shared some photographs with me of what they say were clear instances of voter fraud. One of the members who supplied the photos is a lawyer, and the other is a journalist who works in New Jersey and does not report on politics here. Both are Restler supporters.
I forwarded a number of them to the New York City Board of Elections spokesperson, Valerie Vasquez, who said the photographs in and of themselves do not provide clear evidence of wrongdoing. She also said the board had not received any complaints at that point of voter fraud.
These pictures were taken at 215 Heyward Street in Brooklyn, the day of the September 14, 2012 primary.
Here, a voter is looking directly at the voter registration book. The person who took the photograph said the man seen here gave his name several times to the poll worker, because his accent made it difficult to understand. As a result, the poll worker, possibly out of frustration, let the man look in the book to find his name.
Vasquez, the BOE spokesperson, said the voter photographed here could simply be signing in, and that the photograph doesn't show what may have taken places moments earlier.
Here, two men are seen in one of the privacy booths, where voters are supposed to fill out their ballots alone. Vasquez said voters in need of assistance are allowed to be accompanied by another person into this area.
Here, according to a New Kings Democrats member, is the drivers license of a man who told the poll worker that the signature in the voter registration book under his name was not his. I redacted the address. An attempt to reach him at his home last week was unsuccessful.
UPDATE: When asked for a comment, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes emailed, "No allegations of voter fraud in Williamsburg have been submitted to this Office. Of course we will review any allegation of voter fraud to determine if a crime has been committed."