The State Attorney General’s office today charged a worker for the 2007 campaign of state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) with election fraud for allegedly changing three absentee ballot votes meant for a rival slate to votes for Ruiz’s slate.
Attorney General Anne Milgram charged that 58-year-old Newark resident Antonio Santana, whose responsibilities included soliciting absentee ballots, collected three from one family that were marked for Ruiz opponent Luis Quintana and assembly candidates Bessie Walker and Carolotta Hall. Santana allegedly unsealed the ballots, erased the family’s votes and changed them in favor of Ruiz and her running mates, Grace Spencer (D-Newark) and Albert Coutinho (D-Newark).
The alleged scheme was exposed after the post office returned the ballots to the family.
“We charge that this defendant violated the integrity of the election process and betrayed the trust of these voters, denying them their right to vote for the candidates of their choice,” said Milgram in a press release. “Election fraud is a serious crime. We will not tolerate any attempts to unlawfully manipulate elections in New Jersey.”
The Attorney General’s office said that they had the full cooperation of Ruiz and her campaign staff.
Santana would have had to alter a lot of ballots to change the result of the election, as Ruiz wound up beating Quintana by over 7,000 votes, while Spencer and Coutinho beat their opponents by similarly large margins.