PHILADELPHIA (May 18, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today issued arrest warrants for four election officials from Philadelphia’s 18th Ward, 1st Division. In addition to committing election fraud, three of the four arrested lived in a different division than the one they were working in, which is a violation of the Election Code. The infractions were made during the 2014 General Election.
“There’s no legally justifiable reason to vote multiple times and you cannot falsely certify that you live in a particular ward and division in order to work the polls and collect a check,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Our democracy rests on free and fair elections, but it also relies on the fact that they are conducted properly, which is why these four individuals deserve to be arrested for what they did.”
The election officials include:
- Sandra Lee (date of birth 4/26/55) who served as the division’s Judge of Elections is charged with: Conspiracy, Tampering with Records, Unsworn Falsification, Tampering with Public Records, Obstructing Justice, Failure to Perform Duty, Repeat Voting and Frauds by Election Officers;
- Alexia Harding (date of birth 4/21/93) who served as the division’s Minority Inspector is charged with: False Swearing, Unsworn Falsification to Authorities and Qualifications of Election Officers; and
- James Collins (date of birth 12/8/46) and Gregory Thomas (date of birth 4/3/55) who both served as the division’s Machine Inspectors are charged with: Conspiracy, Tampering with Record, False Swearing, Unsworn Falsification, Tampering with Public Records, Obstructing Justice, Failure to Perform Duty, Repeat Voting, Frauds by Election Officers and Qualifications of Election Officers.
On February 16, 2015, a detective from the District Attorney’s Office Special Investigations Division interviewed a certified poll watcher who saw the division’s election board collaborate to correct a discrepancy between the number of votes cast and the number of voters who signed in to vote.
Once the polling place, which was located at the Hancock Recreation Center – 1401 N. Hancock St., had closed, the four election officials worked together to add an additional six votes to one of the machines to make the votes cast and sign-in books match. The complainant stated that Collins was holding the voting machine curtain open while Thomas was at the rear of the machine. Collins then registered numerous votes on the machine after the polls closed. After each vote he stated, “one more time” and Thomas would reset the machine for Collins to register new votes. The complainant stated that there were no voters inside the polling place, and the doors were locked while the votes were cast. An examination of the voting cartridge verified the complainant’s testimony.
Additionally, the print-out tally indicates the number of votes cast for each candidate/ballot question on the ballot was certified, via signature, by each of the election board members. There were also no blank ballots, which means that the additional votes cast after the polls closed by the poll workers were for candidates and/or ballot questions on the ballot.
A review of Harding’s, Collins’ and Thomas’ home address, as recorded by the Philadelphia Commissioner’s Office, shows that they did not live nor were they registered to vote in the 18th Ward, 1st Division, which is illegal. However, the Election Day payroll indicates that they still collected $125 in compensation.
A new election board will be in place for tomorrow’s primary election.