Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Police Department has been cracking down after discovering voter fraud along the tent-encampment sidewalks of the city’s Skid Row area.
Individuals have been paying homeless people in the area to gather fake signatures for various California ballot measures.
“It’s been going on for years,” LAPD Officer Deon Joseph, who has worked in the neighborhood for two decades, told KABC. “They say, ‘Hey, you wanna make a quick buck?”
"They can get a quarter, a dollar, a cigarette and sometimes food,” Officer Joseph explained. “But in the last few cases it's been money."
According to Officer Joseph, it is commonplace for lobbyists to hire people to set up tables in areas with a high homeless population – such as one station outside the Midnight Mission homeless shelter.
On Friday, undercover LAPD officers wearing hidden cameras arrested three more people for felony election fraud after they were caught giving homeless people a dollar or less in exchange for their forged signatures, The Sacramento Bee reported.
In 2018 alone, the LAPD has arrested seven individuals for felony voter fraud, but in four of those cases, the charges were reduced to misdemeanor offenses, Officer Joseph told KABC.
"It sends the message that it's not a big deal," he said. "And as a result, these guys come back."
In May, undercover officers seized thousands of dollars in cash and lists of registered Los Angeles County voters from three suspects who were paying for signatures on four ballot measures, including one aimed at decreasing jail time for Los Angeles criminals and another to increase oversight of the local sheriff’s office, KNBC reported.
Officer Joseph said the LAPD is working with prosecutors to ensure that the latest three suspects will be charged with felonies.
"It may not be the biggest deal to the average person out there," he told KABC. "But this is an assault on our democracy."
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said that the state recognizes that voter fraud is a serious offense, but claimed such instances were “exceedingly rare,” The Sacramento Bee reported.