Two women from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, are facing voter fraud charges for attempting to cast absentee ballots in the names of their deceased mothers during the 2020 presidential election. The fraud was caught after a handwriting analysis identified that the signatures on the ballots did not match those of the deceased. District Attorney Matt Weintraub revealed that 51-year-old Melissa Ann Fisher and 56-year-old Danielle Elaine Dooner will be charged by summons with third-degree misdemeanors related to violating the provisions of mail-in and absentee ballots.
Fisher’s mother died on Sept. 2, six weeks prior to the election. She signed the ballot under her mother’s name on Oct. 7. Dooner’s mother died on Sept. 29 and she signed her mother’s ballot on Oct. 7 as well. The attorney does not know the voter registrations of the two women or for whom they intended to cast the fraudulent votes.
Dooner is registered as a Republican while Fisher is a Democrat. Their fraudulent ballots were neither counted nor opened. Weintraub revealed that almost 22 complaints of voter fraud related to the 2020 election were investigated by Bucks County detectives, which ranged from ballot tampering, residency issues, threatening election officials, voter intimidation, and so on. Most of these complaints were from sources like political parties, government agencies, residents, etc.
“In some of these investigations, the detectives obtained DNA samples from ballots and voters for analysis, took handwriting samples from voters, prepared and served search warrants for IP addresses for electronic mail-in-ballot application submissions, reviewed video surveillance of county government facilities, contacted and spoke to postal carriers, and contacted and spoke to FBI agents assigned to voter irregularities,” a news release from the attorney’s office stated.
Of the roughly 390,000 votes cast in the Bucks County election, around 164,000, or around 42 percent, were either absentee or mail-in ballots. The 2020 presidential race was the first time in Pennsylvanian history that voters were given the right to opt for a no-excuse mail-in ballot option. This option was allowed under Act 77 which was passed in 2019. Earlier, only voters absent from their home voting precincts could cast no excuse mail-in ballots.
Meanwhile, 70-year-old Bruce Bartman pleaded guilty on one count of unlawful voting and two counts of perjury. As part of his punishment, Bartman won’t be able to vote for the next four years. According to voter records, Bartman used the state’s online registration portal to register his mother, who had died in 2019, as a voter and subsequently filled out and sent the absentee ballot in her name.
In court, Bartman accepted full responsibility for his illegal actions and claimed that he was misled by propaganda. “Our Office has done what it can to ensure our elections are both secure and accessible but the next fight is in Harrisburg. To those reviewing voter systems, I say, ‘Remove failed systems, not ballot boxes’… Rather than earning national attention for efforts to restrict accessibility to voting, address the breakdown in the online voter registration systems that this defendant exploited to vote for a deceased relative,” Stollsteimer said in a statement.
The three cases of fraud come as Pennsylvanian officials agreed in April to remove thousands of dead Americans from the state’s voter rolls. The decision was taken following a lawsuit filed by Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) in Nov. 2020 which alleged that at least 21,000 dead Americans were present in the voter rolls a month prior to the election. Over 9,200 were found to be dead for more than five years while 2,000 were dead for a minimum of 10 years.
State officials now have to check the full voter registration database to the death data sets provided by the Electronic Registration Information Center prior to the 2021 election. “This marks an important victory for the integrity of elections in Pennsylvania… The Commonwealth’s failure to remove deceased registrants created a vast opportunity for voter fraud and abuse. It is important to not have dead voters active on the rolls for five, 10, or even 20 years. This settlement fixes that,” PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a statement.