Calif city councilman among half-dozen charged in ballot-rigging scheme for election decided by one vote

A Compton, Calif., city councilman is one of six people charged in a vote-rigging scheme that allowed him to eke out a victory last fall by just a single ballot.

Citing a criminal filing by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, the L.A. Times reported that 34-year-old Isaac Galvan was among those charged on Friday with conspiracy to commit election fraud.

The paper reported that prosecutors are alleging that Galvan conspired with Jace Dawson, one of a number of people who opposed him during a primary race in April for the city council seat he now holds, “to direct voters from outside the council district to cast ballots for Galvan” during a run-off election in June.

According to L.A. County prosecutors, investigators discovered at least three faulty ballots that were counted during the run-off which ultimately decided the race for Galvan, who amassed 855 votes versus Compton native and businessman Andre Spicer, who collected 854 votes, according to records.


(Video: KABC)

“Elections are the cornerstone of our democratic nation. We must do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the electorate process and to ensure that elections are free and fair,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón in a statement.

In addition to Galvan and Dawson, prosecutors have charged Kimberly Chaouch, Toni Sanae Morris, Barry Kirk Reed and Reginald Orlando Streeter each with two counts of conspiring to commit election fraud. Prosecutors allege that Chaouch, Morris, Reed and Streeter voted in the primary or runoff elections in the district even though they did not live there.

The Times reported that Galvan and Dawson were detained on Friday by the district attorney’s bureau of investigations and booked before being taken in handcuffs to a courtroom appearance downtown. Both pleaded not guilty and were eventually released after posting bond.

The paper said their attorneys would not comment, adding that the next hearing for their case was scheduled for Sept. 17. The remaining four defendants, however, were not arrested and it was not clear when they would be or when they would appear in court.

Galvan was first elected to the city council in 2013 as the self-described youngest and first Latino member. He was charged with one count of election fraud conspiracy and one count of bribery, the Times reported.

The criminal complaint states that he made “an attempt to fraudulently influence the results of the election” with an offer of concert tickets to an employee at the registrar’s office.

That staffer and an elections observer immediately reported the alleged bribe to authorities.

Dean Logan, Los Angeles County’s top elections official, said the arrest and prosecution of Galvan prove that despite widespread claims of voter fraud nationally during the 2020 election, California officials take such offenses seriously.

“These charges and the activities alleged in this case are serious and strike at a time when public confidence in our electoral process is in decline and misinformation about the security of voting is rampant,” he told the Times.

“At the same time, our referral and the District Attorney’s subsequent investigation and charges demonstrate that attempts to perpetrate fraud on the voting process are trackable and will be prosecuted.”

Jon Dougherty

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