Alleging the possibility that gubernatorial candidate Lisa McCormick submitted fraudulent nominating petitions, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee wants her removed from primary election ballot and has asked the Division of Elections to refer the case to law enforcement as a potential criminal act.
“The voters who are claimed to have signed Ms. McCormick’s petition did not in fact sign it, did not authorize their names to be used, and most importantly did not even know that their names or electronic signatures were being utilized by the McCormick campaign,” said Raj Parikh, the counsel to the state party.
McCormick, a shadowy perennial candidate, is challenging Gov. Phil Murphy in the Democratic primary.
After a limited investigation, Parikh said, at least 12 voters who appear as signers for McCormick’s petitions “confirmed that they never signed same, nor did they authorize their names or electronic signatures to be used. In fact, they have advised that they never communicated with Ms. McCormick or her campaign in any way.”
“This type of blatant and fraudulent activity in our elections system must not be tolerated, and those responsible should held accountable,” Parikh said.
All of McCormick’s 1,932 signatures were obtained electronically. The Democratic committee says none of them came with an independent electronic signature verification.
Parikh pointed to one example of a Livingston man who signed McCormick’s petition: Leonard Krawitz, who died on January 28 at age 97.
McCormick’s campaign’s conduct in fraudulently adding the indorsement of someone who is deceased is not only reprehensible but is also demonstrably unlawful,” Parikh wrote in his challenge. “This fact alone is sufficient to call the entire petition into question and the rejection of same.”
In his challenge, Parikh cited examples of signatories no longer living at the address on the McCormick petitions – some of months or years. He said there are some instances where property records show the residence was sold before the petition pages could have been signed.
Among the allegations that McCormick submitted fraudulent petitions: some of the signers misspelled their own names, and 85% of all signatures had last names that began with the letter A or B.
Parikh believes evidence points to McCormick or her partner, James Devine, utilized a mail-merge software program “to create fraudulent petition pages” and them completed a signed statement authenticating the petitions with the Division of Elections.
“Protecting the sanctity of our electoral process is the NJDSC’s priority and we are concerned about what we observed with this filing,” said Saily Avelenda, the executive director of the Demcoratic State Committee. “The actions of the McCormick campaign are deeply disturbing, should disqualify her from appearing on the primary ballot, and should be referred to law enforcement.”
McCormick is a perennial candidate with a shadowy history.
In her 2020 primary challenge against Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing), McCormick appears to have sought to impersonate the congresswoman.
McCormick allegedly sent emails using the Watson Coleman campaign letter head in an attempt to trick voters into believing that the Mercer County Democrat, one of the most progressive member of the state’s House delegation, backed President Donald Trump.
The congresswoman asked authorities to investigate the fake emails after one trafficked anti-Semitic tropes in an attempt to smear the congresswoman.
An email to McCormick using the address on her petition was returned as undeliverable.