New York Election Officials Call for Federal and State Investigations into Suspected Ballot Harvesting
The city’s electoral council has asked the US Department of Justice and the state attorney general’s office to investigate whether a candidate for a Staten Island city council seat conducted an illegal ballot harvesting operation and forgery during last month’s primary – including registering dead people to vote for him, The Post has learned.
Hemalee Patel, the BOE’s general counsel, on Wednesday sent letters to Attorney General Letitia James and Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, U.S. Acting Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, asking their offices to open investigations into electoral fraud in Marko Kepi’s campaign. , a U.S. Marine seeking the Republican line in the race for the seat of the 50th District Council representing the Mid-Island section of the borough.
With many mail-in ballots still in dispute, Kepi, a former aide to ex-Senator Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), is behind David Carr by less than 200 votes for the Republican line in the November general election. to replace the municipal councilor with limited mandate Steven Mattéo.
The letters were sent at the request of the council commissioners, who voted unanimously in an executive session Tuesday closed to the public to request the two criminal investigations, sources said. Such requests are rare for the board.
“In the recent New York primary election, our Richmond County staff discovered irregularities related to mail-in ballot applications and mail-in ballots,” Patel said in letters about the 50th District race, which use the same language.
“Our Council of Commissioners has voted to refer this matter to your office to investigate these issues and take any action you deem appropriate. “
The BOE’s request came at a time when it came under criticism for releasing inaccurate voting results in the city’s Democratic primary – ultimately won by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams – which led to new calls for the overhaul of the board.
An interagency memorandum from the BOE was attached to the letters, noting that four Kepi campaign workers had collected and dropped off 1,050 primary postal ballots – some of which were said to have had numerous irregularities.
These include an allegedly forged voter registration form in the name of a deceased man and numerous examples of postal ballots submitted under the names of people who previously voted in person.
The memo, according to sources, also said that the initial findings of BOE staff might be a small piece of something bigger, adding that an investigation into Kepi’s campaign is warranted because the mail ballots in question affect not only his run, but the results of others as well, including the hotly contested Republican primary for Staten Island Borough President and citywide races.
The note noted that the same four workers representing Kepi’s campaign had previously claimed to have worked for the ex-Rep. Vito Fossella’s Beep campaign.
Fossella – who chose not to be re-elected to his House seat in 2008 after a drunk driving bust in Virginia revealed he was quietly babysitting a second family – was only charged with no wrongdoing linked to Kepi’s campaign, according to Republican agents in the district. .
The ex-MP was only 290 votes ahead after the mail-in vote counted Tuesday, which led Matteo to concede the race to Fossella.
When asked about the BOE letters, Matteo declined to comment.
Fossella has seen a late push at the polls after being endorsed by ex-President Donald Trump.
As The Post exclusively reported last month, Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon is already investigating Kepi’s campaign for voter fraud.
Its investigators stormed the BOE borough office in mid-June to withdraw a multitude of postal ballot requests and other documents filed by Kepi campaign workers – both for the race to council and the failure of Kepi’s main 2020 candidacy for the seat of the 64th District Assembly representing parts of Staten Island and south Brooklyn.
McMahon’s investigation and subsequent BOE actions were spurred on by evidence provided by Carr, who is Matteo’s chief of staff.
Carr gave information to investigators he believes that the Kepi camp conspired and forged signatures to obtain at least two postal ballots under the names of dead men.
He also said his research shows that Kepi’s campaign forwarded numerous other postal ballot requests to BOE which he said contained forged signatures that did not match the signature of the relevant voter previously recorded.
This, he argues, raises the question of whether the actual ballots were forwarded to the appropriate voters to be cast, signed and sealed as required by law.
Kepi’s campaign denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement that the attorney general and federal authorities should “investigate” Carr’s campaign for disputing and disputing the validity of hundreds of postal ballots cast by Albanians -Americans “on the basis of ethnicity”.
Kepi is Albanian-American and believes these ballots can help him gain the upper hand.
“It’s a shame that David Carr and his BOE cronies would rather violate the constitutional rights of voters than admit defeat,” the campaign said.
A Carr campaign spokesperson said the BOE is “doing the right thing” by asking law enforcement to investigate the Kepi camp, adding that “it is bigger than our simple race to the board – it’s about the integrity of our electoral system and making sure every real vote really counts. “
James’ office confirmed receiving the letter but declined to comment further. The US attorney’s office also declined to comment.