OPINION: Getting to the bottom of shady votes in District 15

  • Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, speaks with House Majority Leader Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, before the start of the Alaska legislative session on Jan. 16 in Juneau. Alaska election officials say there have been irregularities found in the absentee balloting system for LeDoux's race, which she now leads by 113 votes after trailing by three on primary night Aug. 21. (Photo/Mark Thiessen/AP)

Among the many subjects that regularly earn Republicans a mocking from Democrats and their media sympathizers, perhaps none rank as highly as claims about election fraud.

Attempts to secure the voting franchise through requirements for ID are universally decried as racist and based on bogeyman conspiracy theories about the dead or otherwise ineligible casting ballots.

In House District 15, where Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux now holds an insurmountable lead of 113 votes over her inert challenger Aaron Weaver, a case is now emerging that voter fraud indeed took place.

Seven dead people requested absentee ballots from beyond the grave. At least two others confirmed ballots returned in their names were not cast by them. A total of 26 absentee ballots — all cast for LeDoux — are now under investigation by the Division of Elections and the Criminal Division of the Department of Law.

Fewer than 600 ballots were cast on Aug. 21 during the GOP primary election, with Weaver waking up to a three-vote edge, 294-291, after he went to bed without even bothering to follow the results as they began posting around 9:15 p.m.

LeDoux crushed Weaver in the absentee count conducted Aug. 28 and now leads 452-339, but a strong whiff of corruption hovers over her apparent victory thanks to what appears to be a systematic effort to game the system.

At the center of it is LeDoux’s Hmong outreach contractor Charlie Chang of Fresno, Calif., who she’s enlisted in each of her House District 15 competitions and was paid nearly $12,000 in July for get-out-the-vote efforts in the Muldoon neighborhood of Anchorage.

Three components are central to any type of legal investigation: motive, means and opportunity.

Every one of those elements fits LeDoux and Chang in House District 15.

In her own statement denying any wrongdoing issued Aug. 28, LeDoux hit on motive: “District 15 is a very low turnout district.”

A low turnout district means every vote is crucial, as was evident on election night with a margin of just three votes between LeDoux and Weaver.

The means and opportunity fit as well as a substantial number of the ballots in question are linked to a narrow range of addresses in Muldoon where Chang’s outreach is focused.

Finally, in the mother of all coincidences, every ballot under review was cast for LeDoux.

Whether LeDoux faces any legal jeopardy seems unlikely absent a claim by Chang he was instructed to do anything improper, and the investigation is in too early of a stage to speculate on whether he did anything wrong, either.

But there is another element of investigations — “Cui bono,” Latin for “who benefits?” — that clearly does not favor LeDoux.

Something fishy went down in Muldoon, and the investigation must proceed expeditiously with the general election coming up Nov. 6 and the state Republican Party now deciding to attempt an actual effort to defeat LeDoux after basically sitting out the primary against one of its biggest and easily best-funded targets.

The broader issue at play, though, is the routinely overlooked aspect of Democrat fights against election integrity.

Claims that Republicans are trying to disenfranchise minority voters ignore the very real competing impact of voter fraud: the disenfranchisement of those whose legal votes are canceled out by illegal ones.

It is no less an act of disenfranchisement to deny the vote to some by allowing the ineligible or deceased to vote — through negligence or corruption — as it is to deny access to the voting booth in the first place.

The Division of Elections deserves credit for flagging these irregularities, which officials obviously believe bear enough signs of intentional fraud to warrant a criminal investigation.

LeDoux may rightly believe there is no evidence that will implicate her in whatever events took place to result in every questioned ballot being a vote for her.

She shouldn’t be as confident that this dark cloud won’t follow her into November.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at [email protected].

Updated: 
08/29/2018 - 11:17am

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