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Lyons: Voter Fraud Punishment before the Insanity Saturday
Sun Feb 19, 2017 00:09

Lyons: Voter fraud punishment before the insanity

Posted Feb 18, 2017 at 5:15 PM
Updated Feb 18, 2017 at 5:15 PM

By Tom Lyons

News stories about the Texas mother convicted of voting fraudulently reminded me of a local case, largely because they are so not similar.

Texas resident Rosa Maria Ortega, who was born in Mexico but came to the United States as an infant child and was living here legally, was not a U.S. citizen and so did not have the right to vote.

She started doing so anyway, after registering by checking a box to claim she was a U.S. citizen, it seems. So a judge in Fort Worth just sentenced her to 8 years in prison.

Her sentence seems outrageous to a lot of people, but most have no knowledge of how any similar case compares. They are too uncommon for most people to have any sense of what a normal sentence for that crime would be.

But as it happens, I wrote about a local voter fraud case that seems totally comparable, aside from the fact that the culprit was far more politically involved and educated and certainly could not claim ignorance as an excuse. Also, he caused a legal real voter some problems.

Oh, one more thing: The sentence he got was a bit different.

The man who voted illegally here was Jeff Carman, a member of the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee at the time and the brother of a Bradenton city councilman. He was a U.S. citizen and legally registered to vote.

But Carman was not registered to vote twice in the same election. No one is.

Still, he wanted to. So Carman sent off for an absentee ballot in 2000 in the name of a former roommate he thought was not going to vote. The roommate was a registered Democrat, and probably not inclined to vote the same way as Carman, by the way.

Carman voted twice for successful presidential candidate George W. Bush. One vote was lawful. The other was fraudulent and used the ex-roommate's name and absentee ballot, by adding a fake signature and then signing himself in as the witness to that signature.

No mistake, no excuse. Straight up voter fraud, on the same scale as that by the mom in Texas.

Carman was caught when the ex-roommate went to vote and was told he could not because he had supposedly already done so by absentee ballot. When he said that wasn't so, the supervisor of elections did a quickie investigation and soon figured out what had happened.

Carman tried a few dodges. He first pretended he had the roommate's permission to vote for him, for instance. Eventually he admitted it wasn't so. He had just seen a way to get and cast an extra ballot, and went for it.

Hey, as a local party committee guy, he was probably just jazzed up about voting. And about helping his side win. Not legal, and it needed to be punished, sure. But as a guy who lived a law abiding life otherwise, how much could a reasonable judge slam him for that bad judgment, even if it did cause his ex-roomie a headache?

Carman got 18 months ... of probation, that is.

No jail or prison time.

I'm sure that was enough punishment to make the point. Had I suggested a year or two in the slammer, I would have looked like a meanie and probably would have been called grossly unfair.

Had I suggested eight years, I'd have reasonably been seen as a rabid zealot who had lost his mind.

And Carman was single and didn't even have kids to say goodbye to as he sadly went off to, um, meet his probation officer.

— Tom Lyons can be reached at


Brigitte Meier Rank 0
The judicial system in the US is not intact and punishment has often more to do with socioeconomic status and political circumstances than with crime. The same crime can therefore have very different punishments for different judges.


5 men arrested during prostitution operation

By Staff report An undercover police operation targeting prostitution resulted in five arrests, according to the Sarasota Police Department.

Police said the operation was conducted in the 4700 block of North Tamiami Trail in Sarasota and resulted in the arrests of ---- -------, 30; ------- ------, 43; ------- ------, 54; ----- ------, 44; and ------- ----- ----, 89. All of them are from Sarasota, police said, and were charged with solicitation of prostitution. ----- and ------ received an additional charge of possession of cocaine.

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