Pennsylvania Vote-Frauder Guy Extra Super-Duper Stupid
A week after the election, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered a reward of One Million Dollars to anyone who could provide evidence of vote fraud. As you may recall, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov John Fetterman immediately stepped right up to say he'd like to
solve the puzzle Pat collect the reward, since he had a case of a guy who tried to vote twice.
Patrick still hasn't shelled out a cent, or even a suite of Whirlpool appliances, to pay Fetterman, but the alleged vote frauder, Ralph Thurman, had a preliminary hearing in state court this week, at which his attorney insisted that if there was any fraud anywhere, it was the entire case against their client, an innocent lamb of a fellow who they said was tricked in a devious plot by Democrats into voting twice. And besides, Thurman's attorney also said, Thurman's son had given permission to vote on his behalf, which made it okay.
Remember that one the next time you're pulled over for speeding. "But officer, Doktor Zoom at Wonkette gave me permission to exceed the posted speed limit!" (Also, I most certainly did not, you liar.)
The hearing, overseen by District Judge Thomas Tartaglio, who will at least have a great story to tell other judges at judge parties, didn't go so great for Thurman. Tartaglio ordered Thurman be tried in Common Pleas Court on felony charges of repeat voting, plus a smattering of misdemeanor charges: forgery, identity theft, and false swearing to a public official. Tartaglio did at least throw out one charge for "forging and destroying ballots," so that was nice.
But Thurman's attorney sure tried to cast doubt on whether a crime took place at all. He claimed, without bothering to provide any evidence, that a poll worker, Eric Frank, was part of a tricksy plot to ensnare Thurman, a Republican, because Eric Frank's father, David Frank, was the precinct judge of elections, and what's more, Eric Frank's mom, Lani Frank, is a Democrat.
Just to make things sillier, attorney Joseph Vaughan claimed that Eric Frank was trying to collect a "bounty" for reporting voter fraud, not that any such reward existed before the Texas lieutenant governor came out with his. "We believe that Mr. Thurman was set up," Vaughan said while questioning Frank. But without any proof to back up the claims, Tartaglio ruled in favor of the prosecutors' objections to the defense questions.
For his part, Frank said he was just doing his job as a poll worker, handing ballots to voters after another worker signed them in and announced their names. He'd never seen Thurman before Election Day, for that matter.
"I know nothing about a bounty or a reward or anything," he said. "I haven't reached out for any kind of compensation. What they are drumming up is completely false."
The facts are fairly straightforward, or so the Chester County Daily Local News would have us believe. Mr. Thurman, 71, came to vote around 7:20 a.m., and Eric Frank said he overheard Thurman ask the other poll worker whether he needed ID to vote. Not in Pennsylvania, as long as it's not his first time voting. Then Thurman wondered aloud if it would be OK to vote for his son, asking Frank, "So I can come back and sign in again?"
Frank told him, no, sir, "That would be illegal," and Thurman replied "How would you know?"
Thurman left, but returned about three hours later. Frank said that when he heard the name "Thurman" called again, he looked up and saw Thurman was back, but — and this is why you should support local journalism, kids — "this time wearing sunglasses."
Frank handed him a ballot anyway (he explained under questioning that it wasn't his job to judge whether voters were entitled to vote) and went to alert his dad, but by the time David Frank was available, Thurman was just putting his second ballot in the scanner and heading out the door.
"I said, 'Sir, can you please come back in here, so we can straighten this out?'" David Frank said. "He said, 'I don't know. I can't do that. I have to go. My wife is in the car.'"
A third poll worker, Nancy Harkins of West Chester, said she was substituting for the poll book worker when Thurman arrived the second time. She said she distinctly heard him identify himself as Kyle Thurman and signed the poll book under that name.
Vaughan tried to poke holes in the narrative, kind of, asking Harkins if Thurman had said anything to her about voting for his son (he hadn't) and asking Frank if he knew Thurman was hard of hearing and may not have heard Frank say voting twice is illegal. (Which would make his reply, "how would you know?" a remarkable bit of psychic magic.)
The very best part of the story is the question Vaughan asked David Frank, though:
he asked whether the elections official was aware that when Thurman voted for his son, he cast a ballot for Biden, not Trump. "If the votes cancel each other out, isn't it true that you're not technically voting twice?" He asked. [Assistant District Attorney Daniel ] Hollander, however, objected, calling the notion "absolutely preposterous." Tartaglio agreed.
Another member of the prosecution team, West Chester County attorney Sam Stretton, pointed out, just in case anyone were unclear on the matter, that even if Thurman's son had given "permission," that didn't make voting twice legal: "It is totally illegal. You vote for yourself. There is no such thing as proxy voting. If we did that, it would create absolute chaos."
Yeah, but he had permission, man. And the two votes cancelled each other. Where's the harm?
Vaughan closed with a stirring defense of his client's character, and then, summoning his internal Al Pacino, declared the whole court was out of order:
"It is implausible to think that he would knowingly commit a crime," Vaughan said. "The crime here is to bring charges." Repeating his claims of a "set up" by others' gains of his client, he said the case was "insidious at its worst, and a mistake at best." [Emphasis added —Dok]
Fetterman said Thursday that the case actually demonstrates how difficult massive voter fraud would be. Like, even if you don't telegraph your intentions by asking poll workers questions about how you might vote twice.
"This case demonstrates how rare and impossibly difficult it is to successfully commit voter fraud," Fetterman said in a telephone interview. "The fact that Mr. Thurman also happened to vote for the president also underscores that key point."
Fetterman said that even though the double-voting felony could send Thurman to jail for between three and a half and seven years, he doesn't think the old idiot should go to prison. Fetterman would rather see him agree to record a public service ad in which he'd talk about how "dangerous and foolish it is to commit voter fraud." Dang, these liberal officials!
In conclusion, if you want to do voter fraud, don't, because you'll probably be caught and charged with a felony, and then everyone will make fun of you, too.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.