Philly judge orders confiscation of potentially fraudulent Democratic endorsement ballots under investigation

Flyers that mimicked official Democratic City Committee ballot endorsements were doctored to omit 3rd council district candidate Jamie Gauthier.

real and doctored ballots

On the left, the Official Democratic City Committee Ballot election guide vs. the doctored Democratic City Committee Ballot election guide under investigation on the right. (Courtesy of the Law Office of Adam C. Bonin)

A Philadelphia County judge has ordered the confiscation of potentially fraudulent sample ballot flyers at polling places in the 3rd council district.

The sample ballot papers in question were made to look like “the Official Democratic City Committee Ballot” with the party’s endorsed candidates for mayor, council seats, county judges, and other city races.

The doctored ballot papers incorrectly listed third-party candidate Jabari Jones as the committee’s endorsed candidate for the 3rd district council seat, instead of incumbent Jamie Gauthier.

The disputed ballots were distributed to voters at the Add B. Anderson School in West Philly on Tuesday.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Election Task Force has opened an investigation into the matter and “has dispatched prosecutors and detectives to polling locations where they were allegedly distributed,” said Jane Roh, office spokesperson.

Gauthier and the city committee made an emergency oral motion in Election Court before Judge Leanne Litwin, who granted an injunction against the distribution of the false sample ballots.

In a recorded video statement Tuesday, Jones said he had not confirmed the origins or the existence of the fake ballots himself, but had a message to voters and whomever was distributing the ballots under investigation:

“I don’t need to rely on cheap tricks to win,” he said. “I’m pretty confident in our numbers, I’m confident in the message that we’re putting out to voters, and I’m confident in the work that we’ve done over the last few months in order to be able to spread our message and get voters to support us.

“I just want to say to anybody who is doing this or thinking that it’s helping me, please stop. It’s only going to make our campaign look bad, and they’re only going to try to use this to take away from the victory that we’re trying to have today.”

Election complaints and investigations remained low in number, according to a tweet by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. As of 3 p.m., the office’s Election Task Force had investigated more than a dozen polling location complaints, “mainly for electioneering.”

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal