Trial witness: NY Dem officials paid for votes to snatch third-party ballot line

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Two Democratic Party officeholders are on trial in upstate New York for a scam that allegedly involved paying residents of Troy, N.Y. $10 each to register to vote, then forging their absentee ballots.

And there is a witness.

The scheme was apparently concocted to ensure local Democrats would win co-listing under the Working Families Party’s ballot line.

Jermaine Joseph, now attending college in Iowa, told jurors Wednesday that he was approached with an offer of $10 to register to vote. He said he never voted in the 2009 third-party primary, and read aloud the names of Democrats for whom election records say he cast his ballot.

The two officials standing trial, Rensselaer County Board of Elections Commissioner Edward McDonough and former Troy City Councilman Michael LoPorto, are accused of forging up to 50 Working Families Party primary ballots, the Albany Times-Union reports.

LoPorto, who would have secured the party’s ballot line in 2009 even without the fraudulent votes, is charged with multiple counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

McDonough, who remains listed as an elections commissioner on the county’s website, faces 38 counts of second-degree forgery and 36 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

The men face seven years in prison if convicted.

In New York, minor parties often endorse major-party candidates, thereby granting them co-listing on ballots.  The Conservative Party often endorses Republican candidates, while the Working Families Party frequently endorses Democratic candidates.  Having the nod of a smaller party is considered a key advantage in close races.

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