Rami Pinchevsky to NJ AG: Stop the election theft and Russo-Occhipinti Corruption this May

Rami Pinchevsky for Council announces:

Attorney General Paula T. Dow
Office of The Attorney General
P.O. Box 080
Trenton, NJ 08625-0080

April 12, 2011

Dear Attorney General Dow,
This letter is to inform you of an urgent and serious situation in Hoboken, NJ that threatens to undermine the ability of residents to participate in free and fair democratic elections. Due to incidents that have occurred in recent elections and are likely continuing, I respectfully request that your office send representatives to begin monitoring the May 10th, Hoboken City Council 4th Ward election as soon as possible.

As you know, in November of 2010, Hudson County Prosecutor, Edward DeFazio referred the results of the November 2nd, 2010 Hoboken 4th Ward Council Special Election to your office for review.1 In this election, the allegation of wide spread vote-buying and voter fraud were supported by affidavits, campaign finance reports, and other empirical evidence.2 The numbers are hard to ignore:

Out of the 2215 total ballots counted – 440 were Vote-By-Mail (VBM) 3
On top of the 99 dismissed, Tim Occhipinti got 390 VBM votes (93% of total)3
ELEC reports show Tim Occhipinti paid $40 to each of 550 “campaign workers”1
Roughly 80% of Tim Occhipinti’s “campaign workers” also did Vote-By-Mail1
The 4th Ward Councilmember who participated in these allegedly fraudulent activities, Timothy Occhipinti, is currently running for a full four-year term. I encourage you to continue the investigation of last November’s election, but unless you put monitors in place immediately, there will be a repeat occurrence of  the suspect behavior in next month’s municipal election.

The greatest potential for fraud lies with the Vote-By-Mail (VBM) ballots, which will be mailed to voters starting this week. The openness of the VBM system allows unscrupulous individuals to illegally pay a voter in exchange for a completed VBM ballot and submit them well before Election Day – meaning the election could potentially be bought and sold well before the polls even open. I have received reports that the mechanics of this vote-buying operation have already begun soliciting ballots for the May 10th election.

The recent release of an FBI surveillance video of 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo agreeing to accept a $5,000 bribe and ongoing payments underscores the need for a fair election this year.4 The principles of a democratic process would normally ensure that elected officials of this caliber would never be elected again, but when democracy is subverted through vote-buying, criminals can be illegally elected in perpetuity.

Not only does vote-buying undermine our democracy, but it also puts hundreds of individuals at risk who are misled into committing a crime. The presence of your office monitoring and investigating this election would restore confidence in our democratic process and help to ensure that the culture of corruption in Hobken does not continue.

Rami Pinchevsky
Candidate, Hoboken City Council, 4th Ward


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