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Judge Wants Ophelia Ford Election Fraud Details

From the Memphis (TN) Commercial Appeal:

Photo Photo Photo

Verline Mayo, Mary McClatcher and Gertrude Otteridge

Judge: Let’s air details of fraud

Public has right, Colton says in Ophelia Ford election case

By Marc Perrusquia
May 22, 2007

A judge said Monday he thinks the public is owed a more detailed explanation about an alleged plot by three poll workers to throw a 2005 election to Ophelia Ford, now a state senator.

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge John P. Colton took guilty pleas earlier this month from the three election workers who avoided jail time in a deal with prosecutors.

The workers admitted to voting fraud charges against them, yet never said what motivated them to fake at least three votes, two of them cast in the names of dead people.

“I think the public has a right to know exactly what went on,” Colton told The Commercial Appeal in a rare interview involving a case before him.

Colton said he considered not accepting the guilty pleas because no public explanation was given for the election workers’ motives. He said he’s speaking publicly now because of the case’s importance.

“Voting to me is a high honor this country has,” the judge said. “When it’s desecrated, it makes me sad and it makes me shudder.” …

Following a newspaper investigation of the close vote, Senate leaders cited the fake votes and other irregularities when deciding to void the election and toss Ford from the Senate. In a rematch in last November’s general election, Ford beat Roland in a landslide.

Since resuming office in January, Ford, 56, has gripped Tennessee with a new rumpus, a tale involving a fall from a bar stool, a puzzling public tirade and an illness that’s caused her to miss much of this legislative session.

The senator told WMC-TV News last week that she suffers from chronic anemia. She admitted to falling off a bar stool at Nashville’s Downtown Sheraton across from Legislative Plaza, saying the episode was triggered by her anemia and by “not eating.” ..

In a plea deal entered May 10, alleged ringleader Verline Mayo admitted to 10 felonies, including voter fraud, making false entries on election documents and official misconduct. Mayo, 70, received the stiffest sentence: two years’ probation, $1,000 in fines and 200 hours of community service.

Codefendants Gertrude Otteridge, 65, and Mary McClatcher, 53, pleaded guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor each and were sentenced to one year probation plus fines and community service.

With felony voting fraud convictions on their records, they can’t ever work the polls again, nor will they be able to get their voting rights restored.

“We felt it was a good resolution for the community,” said Asst. Dist. Atty. Linda Kirklen, who said prosecutors considered the defendants’ ages and other factors when striking the deal…

Prosecutors declined to release an investigative report compiled by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The TBI probe followed an investigation by The Commercial Appeal that found that someone had forged the names of two deceased elderly voters to cast ballots in the District 29 race. The newspaper found that other votes were cast in the names of voters whose addresses were vacant lots.

The irregularities occurred in North Memphis’ heavily Democratic Precinct 27-1, where Mayo had served as an Election Day poll boss for decades. The Shelby County Election Commission has since abolished the precinct, merging it with an adjacent one.

In a series of conflicting media interviews, Mayo suggested at one point last year that then-Election Commission inspector Eddie Hayes — who earned a living as a funeral director at the Ford Funeral home owned by Ophelia Ford’s relatives — played a role in the scandal.

Hayes, who oversaw Precinct 27-1 and other North Memphis precincts during the Sept. 15, 2005, election, denied Mayo’s assertions…

The real story here seems to be that the State prosecutors were so in the bag for the Fords that they would not even fully investigate this egregious example of rampant voter fraud.

How bad does it have to be that a judge is the one to speak out?

The workers admitted to voting fraud charges against them, yet never said what motivated them to fake at least three votes, two of them cast in the names of dead people.

It must have been their excessive zeal that made them do it.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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