New Jersey woman faces federal charge for alleged voter bribery scheme involving US mail

New Jersey woman faces federal charge for alleged voter bribery scheme involving US mail
This file photo shows a man casting his ballot at a polling station in New Jersey's primary elections on June 7, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Lizaida Camis of Hoboken, New Jersey, is facing a violation of the Travel Act for allegedly using the U.S. mail service to aid in voter bribery, according to a statement by the U.S. District Attorney’s office for the District of New Jersey.

What are the allegations?

According to the statement, from October 2013 through November 2013, Camis allegedly agreed to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 each if they voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots for the November 2013 Hoboken municipal election.

Camis allegedly gave the voters vote-by-mail applications and then delivered the completed applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office.

“After the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, Camis went to their apartments and, in some cases, instructed the voters to vote for the candidates for whom Camis was working,” the statement alleges.

Camis allegedly promised at least three voters that they would be paid $50 for casting their mail-in ballots and told them that they could pick up their checks after the election at an office on Jefferson Street in Hoboken.

Investigators reviewed bank records and other documents that showed the Hoboken voters received $50 checks from entities affiliated with campaigns that employed Camis.

Authorities have not yet identified what campaign Camis worked for and where the checks came from.

She faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

New Jersey law allows registered voters to cast a ballot by mail rather than in person. To do so, voters must complete and submit to their county clerk’s office an application for a vote by mail ballot. After the application is processed, voters receive a mail-in ballot.

What did the mayor say?

“Voting by mail is a tool that is intended to aid voters, but instead has been rampantly abused by corrupt political campaigns,” Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla told the Hudson County View.

He continued: “Today’s official statement by the United States Attorney’s office proves what we’ve known for years – candidates and campaigns will do anything, including bribing voters, to illegally influence elections here in Hoboken. Quite simply, buying votes is an unlawful act that undermines our democracy, and must end once and for all. I commend the United States Attorney’s office and all law enforcement agencies involved for their focus on this endemic problem.”

How common is it?

The Heritage Foundation maintains an election fraud database that contains a sampling of more than 1,140 proven instances of fraud. The cases span nearly every state and impact all levels of government.

The Pew Center on the States estimated in 2012 that among 24 million voter registrations, one out of every eight were inaccurate, a figure significant enough to represents a threat to election integrity.