Republicans love to justify their voter suppression efforts against likely Democratic voters by claiming the existence of substantial amounts of voter fraud committed by crooked opposition politicians.
These claims, however, seem not only false but massively hypocritical given that the vast majority of detected election fraud in this country have been committed by the Republicans themselves.
There was the 2018 congressional election in North Carolina’s 9th District that had to be annulled and held a second time after a Republican operative illegally collected, and sometimes filled in, absentee ballots on behalf of the GOP candidate. That’s not to mention the extreme partisan gerrymandering in states with Republican majorities in their local legislatures and the sleazy tactics of voter suppression enacted through the closure of polling places in heavily Democratic districts and the limiting of early voting opportunities and the other anti-democratic methods used to ensure the GOP candidate doesn’t have to fight a fair contest.
Now another one of the Republican party’s dirty electoral tricks has come to light with the charges of election fraud filed against two Ohio GOP politicians for illegally distributing phony sample ballots in a local contest.
Ben Garbarek, a reporter for the local ABC affiliate WSYX, revealed on Twitter today that the Republican candidate for Marion City Auditor, Robert Landon, and a Marion County Republican Party official, John Matthews, have been charged with violating election laws prohibiting the distribution of campaign literature that is designed to mimic official sample ballots.
The Marion law director said Landon admitted to passing out the sample ballots while Matthews produced them. Landon is facing a second charge of imitating the board of elections. All charges are first-degree misdemeanors. Arraignment TBD.
— Ben Garbarek (@BenWSYX6) November 5, 2019
According to Ohio law, both political parties and candidates are barred from distributing sample ballots. The law also requires any genuine sample ballots to be on colored paper to distinguish them from the actual ballots used on election day. The phony ballots passed around by Landon and Matthews were printed on white paper and had the Republican candidates highlighted.
If convicted, the two GOP politicians could be hit with a $1,000 fine and face up to six months in prison.
Landon, the candidate who stood to benefit from the fraudulent campaign materials, also faced the additional charge of “imitating the board of elections.”
For his part, Matthews is apparently a repeat offender, according to The Columbus Dispatch. He was previously caught campaigning while on the clock at his job as a claims support worker for the Ohio Industrial Commission in March 2017. The GOP official pleaded guilty back then to a fourth-degree felony — theft in office — and was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay more than $4,000 in restitution to the state.
Some Republicans, it appears, consider Democracy as just another game to be won at all costs even if cheating is the only path they have to victory. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the election is for a minor local office or for the presidency of the United States. As long as they maintain power, the methods they use to achieve it are irrelevant in their own eyes.
Original reporting by Ben Garbarek at WSYX6-ABC
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.