Write-in Democratic Candidate Wins in Philadelphia Special Election?

On March 21st, Philadelphia held a special municipal election to fill one State Legislature seat for the 197th District in North Philadelphia. The only candidate with a name on the ballot was a Republican; meanwhile, the others, including the leading Democratic nominee and the Green Party candidate, were write-in candidates. However, the Democratic candidate—against the odds—won.  But likely due to fraud and unlawful electioneering by the Democrats.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported on March 30th:

Democratic write-in candidate Emilio Vazquez won the election, beating Green Party write-in candidate Cheri Honkala and Republican Lucinda Little, the lone candidate with her name on the ballot… [Little received 198 votes, or 7.4 percent of the 2,681 ballots cast.  Vazquez won 1,970 votes, while Honkala received 282. Only 5 percent of registered voters turned out. Democrats make up 85 percent of those registered in the district.] 

Joseph DeFelice, chairman of the city’s Republican Party, and state GOP chair Val DiGiorgio held a news conference to announce the joint lawsuit. DeFelice said the party is suing not because he thinks Little might have won in the heavily Democratic district, but because the violations were so rampant that those responsible should face fines and, if applicable, criminal charges. The ultimate goal is to have the results invalidated, DiGiorgio said. . . “I’m a Republican in Philadelphia, I’m used to losing,” DeFelice said. “I just want to lose fairly.”

Accusations include illegal voter assistance, specifically poll workers handing out Vazquez stamps. GOP leaders said they have signed affidavits from poll workers as well as photo and video evidence of poll workers entering voting booths. The city GOP Twitter feed includes photos that the party argues show doctored "pink slips," the ballot sample sheets that are posted for voters outside the polls.

Linda Kerns, attorney for the GOP city committee [and RNLA Southeastern Pennsylvania Chair], said the alleged fraud should bother people who live beyond the borders of the 197th... “What happened in this special election in the 197th should have every Democrat in the city from [Democratic Party Chairman] Bob Brady on down hanging their heads in shame,” Kerns said. “This was an election they could have won just by following the rules…. They cheated their way through this entire day with absolute impunity.”

Late last week, Linda Kerns filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the GOP and the Green Party outlining the widespread fraud vote during the March 21st Election. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on April 6th:

Two losing candidates [last] Thursday asked a federal judge to throw out the results of the controversial March 21 special election for the 197th Pennsylvania House District and order a new election, alleging the Democratic Party and its candidate engaged in illegal electioneering. 

The lawsuit from Republican nominee Lucinda Little and Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala was filed one day after Democrat Emilio Vazquez was sworn into office…. The 29-page suit is a litany of complaints about shady tactics in the North Philadelphia district.  The two candidates, along with the city and state Republican Parties and the state Green Party, are suing Vazquez, Philadelphia’s Democratic City Committee, and the Board of City Commissioners and Department of State, which oversaw the election…. Vazquez, in his new office in Harrisburg on Thursday, shrugged off the legal claims. . . .

The suit repeatedly cites allegations that election board workers, “virtually all of whom are registered Democrats,” engaged in or allowed electioneering such as passing out literature in support of Vazquez, allowing his supporters to linger in polling places, and allowing nonvoters to follow voters into polling booths…. “The voters for the special election were told by election board workers and representatives of the Democratic City Committee that they were only allowed to vote for the write-in, [Vazquez], and no other candidate,” the suit claims. “Voters were threatened or intimidated if it was thought they were going to vote for another candidate.” . . . 

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s Election Fraud Task Force reported receiving “approximately 50 calls” and responding to “several dozen allegations of illegal activity at polling places.”  It is now investigating, working with the state Attorney General’s Office.

These irregularities are only the latest of consistent problems of fraud and voter suppression by Democrats in Philadelphia elections.