A singular case of blatant voter fraud was reported during the elections in Pike County, Tuesday, according to attorney Thomas Farley, solicitor for the Pike County Board of Elections.

MILFORD - A singular case of blatant voter fraud was reported during the elections in Pike County, Tuesday, according to attorney Thomas Farley, solicitor for the Pike County Board of Elections. The incident concerned a man that used someone else’s name to vote at the Dingman-1 polling station.

Voting was busy throughout the township, with nearly 50% turnout. People were standing in line. In the mid-afternoon at the Dingman-1 station at the Milford Bible Church, the man came in and confidently signed a name, and was allowed to vote.

An hour later, the actual voter, whose name had been used, came in to vote. It was then that poll workers realized something was wrong, said Farley, who is also the county solicitor.

When the actual voter signed his name, the poll worker saw that it did not match what had already been registered in the poll book. The voter gladly provided a photo I.D. upon request, and he was allowed to vote.

Farley was contacted by the poll workers, and immediately he alerted District Attorney Ray Tonkin. Farley said that clearly this was a case of voter fraud, which is a third degree felony.

Within an hour, the county detective arrived at the polling place to investigate, conducting interviews and checking for security cameras that may have pictured a suspect. The poll book was taken into evidence. One or two other voters who were near the person in line, who allegedly committed the fraud had already been questioned by the detective.

No other incident

“…In case other people were doing this either as a game or trying to manipulate the system, we contacted each and every polling booth and informed them of what happened, and asked them to be very meticulous at this point to compare signatures and if any question to ask for an I.D.,” Farley said. “…To our knowledge there was no other incident other than this one.”

The solicitor stated that should they find the person who committed the fraud, “I am going to ask as solicitor of the Election Board that they prosecute that individual to the fullest extent of the law.”

Busiest precinct

In defense of the poll worker, who wasn’t named, Farley noted that they were very busy at that time the fraud occurred. “The poor lady in her defense was very busy and very swamped. She didn’t catch it. It was brought to her attention when the second person came.”

“Who would think that someone would actually try to do that? How do you know that that person did not already vote,” he asked, rhetorically.

Commissioner Chairman Matthew Osterberg stated that the representative for the company where the county purchased the voting machines said that in his 24 years with the company, this is the first time he had heard of this happening.

“It’s not like this is a common occurrence,” Osterberg said.

The discussion took place Wednesday morning at the commissioners’ meeting.

Nadine Manzoni, Director of the Pike County Election Office, said that the incident did not really interrupt voting. The incident was realized at around 3 or 4 in the afternoon.

Dingman-1 had a 47.57% voter turnout, based only on those arriving at the polls and not including absentee votes. With 2,178 voters, that averages to over 167 voters an hour. Among Pike County’s 18 voting precincts, Dingman-1 had the most voters at the polls. Dingman-2 came in second, with 1,861 voters.

As for the extra votes cast, Manzoni affirmed there was no way to know which votes were fraudulent.

Reactions

The initial news report about the voter fraud, posted on The News Eagle Facebook page generated numerous comments.

“The problem would be easily solved if people had to show a valid driver’s license or state I.D. Where I go to vote the ask for no identification and you just need to sign by your name,” Dawn DeFeo said.

“I always show my I.D. I want to make sure no one ever votes in my name,” Yvonne Nadine stated.

Terri Casolaro Seminuk remarked, “I had my license out and was shocked when they didn’t ask to confirm my identity at the polling place.”

A couple others said that they were asked to show a photo I.D.

None of the people who posted comments stated where they voted.

Pennsylvania law

Pennsylvania law only requires that the voter show a photo I.D. when voting for the first time in that precinct. Voters are required to sign their name, which is compared to the signature the voter previously gave, which may have been years earlier.

A photo I.D. was signed into law in 2012 (Act 18 of 2012)  by then-Governor Tom Corbett. The entire Democratic caucus voted against it and all but three Republicans voted in favor. The bill’s supporters argued that the law would benefit election security, despite a lack of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

The PA Supreme Court blocked the Voter I.D. law ahead of the 2012 election. A Commonwealth Court judge in 2014 ruled that Act 18 of 2012 was unconstitutional, although the law may still be seen in Pennsylvania’s Election Code. Previous rules regarding identification requirements for those who are voting for the first time in a given precinct, remain in effect, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Manzoni said that county-wide, the only complaint they received about long lines was in Lehman Township, where voters reportedly were waiting an hour. She said they use four poll books but had three lines. At the next election they may arrange it so there are four lines, to help the voters get through quicker.