Three Philadelphia Election Officials Plead Guilty to Voter Fraud Charges

A Philadelphia polling place on election day in 2012, where a Barack Obama mural had to be covered due to complaints by Republicans / AP
January 14, 2016

Three election officials in Philadelphia pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of violating the commonwealth's election laws, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The three officials, Robin Trainor, Laura Murtaugh, and Cheryl Ali avoided felony fraud charges with the plea deal, which got them off with just one year of probation and the loss of their voting privileges for four years.

The charges stem from illegal election activity committed by the officials during elections in 2014 and 2015. Two of the election officials, Trainor and Murtaugh, worked together to register multiple illegitimate votes during a primary election last year.

In the Juniata Park case, prosecutors have said that the District Attorney's Election Fraud Task Force was called to the polling station at Castor Avenue and Cayuga Street in last year's primary.

According to witnesses, Trainor went into a voting booth while her husband was inside casting a vote. Afterward, she stepped out of the booth, spoke to Murtaugh, signed the election register under her 23-year-old son's name, reset the voting machine, and returned to the voting booth. Another vote was cast while Trainor and her husband were behind the curtain, prosecutors have said.

Trainor was not allowed to work as judge of elections because she is a public employee.

Trainor pleaded guilty before Judge Robert Coleman to two misdemeanor charges - failure to perform duty and falsely holding the position of an election officer. Murtaugh pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor - failure to perform duty.

Ali, the third official, was caught voting for family members. Additionally, she was serving as a machine inspector in a district that she didn't live in.

Voter fraud has long been viewed as a problem in Philadelphia. In 2012, the lone Republican on a  city commission tasked with upholding election laws produced a 27-page report detailing instances of voter fraud during that years primary election.

Among the violations listed were double voting at multiple polling places, voter impersonation, voting by non-citizens, and also people who were allowed to vote even though they were not registered to do so.

Cries of voter fraud were heard later that year when Republican Mitt Romney failed to receive a single vote in any of the city's 59 voting divisions.

Published under: Pennsylvania