Prosecutors in Hawthorne, California are alleging that a voter fraud scheme involving two men trying to submit 8,000 fraudulent registrations to the clerk’s office involved the cross-border drug gang MS-13. The purpose appeared to be an effort by the gang to elect one of their cronies to city office.
Carlos Montenegro and Marco Arevalo pleaded not guilty to numerous charges relating to the fraud, including “eight counts of voter fraud, four counts of procuring and offering a false or forged instrument, and four misdemeanor counts of interference with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit.”
Montenegro, who was running for mayor of Hawthorne, set up what appears to be a fake non-profit group, “Homeless Votes Matter” in July.
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Montenegro and his accomplices began sending out the voter registration applications in July and continued up until October when election officials flagged a suspicious amount of ballots registered at the same address.
The prosecutor revealed the operation was being funded by notorious street gang MS-13 in order to place Montenegro in office so they could have an ally in the city.
Thankfully, the two crooks had no idea how registration verification works. They were easily caught and the registrations invalidated.
The conspiracy charge alleges that Montenegro submitted and filed signed nomination papers containing 41 signatures and addresses to the city clerk this summer and that just 18 of the names, addresses and signatures on the nomination papers were validated by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office.
The conspiracy charge also alleges that Montenegro was subsequently issued write-in candidate nomination papers and that he “submitted and filed signed write-in candidate nomination papers containing 32 signatures and addresses for fictitious, non-existent or deceased person” with the city clerk’s office.
Not very bright. He didn’t even know enough to use real people’s names and addresses on the nomination papers.
It further alleges that he and co-defendant Marcos Raul Arevalo “and other unknown co conspirators” used three post office boxes in Hawthorne as well as Montenegro’s home address “as mailing addresses for over 8,000 voter registration applications for fictitious, non-existent or deceased persons, that were submitted for processing to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office and the California Secretary of State.”
This was a wholly amateur operation from start to finish and authorities had no problem catching the fraud and the fraudsters. There are far more sophisticated efforts that are not as easily detectable.
The confidence level of many people in the ability of state election authorities to ferret out serious fraud is low. A congressional investigation would be too partisan. What’s needed is an independent panel of election security, law enforcement, and cyber experts to fully examine the numerous charges of fraud from the 2020 election to restore the people’s confidence in the electoral process.