Former California mayoral candidate charged with registering 8,000 homeless people to vote

Well, to be completely accurate, Carlos Antonio De Bourbon Montenegro and his partner didn’t actually succeed in fraudulently registering more than 8,000 homeless people to vote without their knowledge, but they gave it one heck of a shot. Prosecutors in Los Angeles County say that Montenegro and his associate, Marcos Raul Arevalo, used three different Post Office boxes to submit more than 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications over a four-month period. While running for Mayor of Hawthorne, California, Montenegro also allegedly falsified names, address and signatures on petitions and other documents required to get on the ballot. All in all, the pair have been charged with 41 counts of various types of election fraud. (CBS Los Angeles)

Two men – including a former Hawthorne mayoral candidate – have been charged for allegedly submitting thousands of fraudulent voter registration applications on behalf of homeless people, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Carlos Antonio De Bourbon Montenegro, aka Mark Anthony Gonsalves, 53, allegedly submitted more than 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications between July and October 2020, according to a 41-count criminal complaint from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Montenegro also is accused of falsifying names, addresses and signatures on nomination papers under penalty of perjury to run for mayor in the city of Hawthorne.

We can just skip over the usual formalities of reminding everyone of how often we are told that voter fraud either doesn’t happen or is exceedingly rare. And to put a somewhat more optimistic angle on the story, let’s at least give Montenegro and Arevalo credit for being industrious. Assuming that they divided the “work” evenly, they had to dig up all of the names and fill out all the forms for more than one thousand imaginary voters every month between July and October. That’s a lot of scribbling to do.

Unfortunately for the wannabe mayor and his partner, the list of charges they are facing is quite serious. Each of the men has been hit with one count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud, eight counts of voter fraud, four counts of procuring and offering a false or forged instrument, and four misdemeanor counts of interference with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit. In addition to that, Montenegro himself was tagged with 23 more charges of a similar nature including multiple additional felonies.

If convicted, Montenegro is looking at up to fifteen years in the Crowbar Hotel, while his buddy could receive up to seven years. Even if they had completely clean records up to this point (and Montenegro apparently didn’t) they are unlikely to simply walk away with probation and a slap on the wrist for that many counts.

I realize there was a huge push to get out the vote in 2020, but there are clearly some people out there who are taking it to an entirely new level. It seems obvious that Montenegro wasn’t trying to influence the presidential election or probably even a congressional race. He was more interested in his own political fortunes and possibly those of his associates. But Hawthorne is a city with a population of barely 85,000. The number of residents age 18 and over will be measurably lower than that and not everyone will register to vote. On at least one referendum that was on the ballot in Hawthorne this year, barely 30,000 people voted. Do you have any idea how big of an impact 8,000 fraudulent votes would have on an election among that small of a pool of actual voters?

It’s good that Montenegro was caught before he could pull off this scheme, but he was also fairly stupid and ham-handed in his attempt. There are no doubt some smarter people out there who had some thoughts along the same lines. How sure are we that election officials catch all of them? Just some food for thought.

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