Honkala Joins Trans-Partisan Call For Election Investigation
Honkala along with Greens, Republicans, and Democrats call for full investigation of intimidation and election fraud
PHILADELPHIA, Pa — Numerous incidents of election fraud and voter intimidation were reported throughout the day of the special election, March 21, by voters, poll workers, and volunteers supporting the endorsed candidates of all three parties represented. Because of that, the Cheri Honkala campaign will join the Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) and various local Democrats and Republicans in calling for an investigation into the anomalies and potential illegal actions that took place. An injunction will be filed to void the election and call for new special election.
Green Party of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 23, 2017
"Because we have seen at least one if not more election boxes outside the normal chain of command, I am asking and demanding that you immediately seal any and all election and voting boxes and write-in tapes for this election, and keep them under lock and key. I also want an immediate inventory because we do not believe that all of the boxes are in yet, and we believe that there could be tampering."
Stretton said that Republicans will be filing a similar letter with the Philadelphia commissioners. Yesterday, House Republican Majority Leader Dave Reed called for Attorney General Josh Shapiro to investigate the special election.
While Honkala’s legal team has filed to stop the hand count of write-in votes from the disputed March 21 special election, if it is not granted, the vote count will take place at 9am on Friday, March 24 on the 6th floor of 520 North Columbus Boulevard.
Honkala said, "While there are already questions about the vote, we still need as many eyes on this process as possible if it happens--citizens, lawyers and press. I also invite all eight candidates for District Attorney to attend the count and show their commitment to upholding integrity in our elections."
Renowned civil rights attorney, Michael Coard, who is also representing Honkala, elaborated, "It’s clear that the circumstances of this election have included widespread voter intimidation as well as the illegal behavior of those inside and outside the polling places. While there will be votes counted tomorrow, it is no longer possible to know if those are all of the votes cast by voters and only votes cast by voters. Furthermore, we will not be able to discern and judge what the people’s choice would have been without the use of widespread and illegal tactics."
A list of incidents provided in a previously released statement include:
- Misleading literature from the Democratic candidate, Emilio Vazquez, implying that Green Party candidate Cheri Honkala, who has lived in District for years, is an "outsider" and a "Republican."
- At a Beauty School, 2751 Germantown Avenue, Honkala poll workers were told they could not put up Honkala signs because this is a "Democratic district."
- At multiple polling places, Democratic poll workers and committee people are located inside the polling place, handing out the Vazquez stamp and literature; not 10 feet from the entrance to the polling location as required by law.
- At the Wyoming Branch Library, Democrats have set up a table outside the polling place, with sign-in sheets and stickers, and giving voters the impression that this party-run table is the place to check in to vote, rather than the actual check-in station inside the polling place.
- At the Pan American Clinic, a Democratic Committeeman is handing out partisan materials inside the doorway to the polling place, not 10 feet from the entrance as required by law. When questioned by a Honkala supporter, he responded that he’s an "elected" person (either a judge of election or committeeperson). If a judge of election, he should be inside but running the election in a non-partisan manner, not distributing literature. If he is fulfilling a partisan role, he needs to be outside the polling place. This location is also owned by Freddie Ramirez, the first Democratic candidate who was kicked off the ballot for not living in the District.
- Similarly, at the Beauty School, a voter was electioneered by an election board member who came out of the polling place to do so.
- At the Esperanza Health Center, a Honkala voter was point blank asked by the election board member who she was voting for.
- At multiple polling places, Democratic poll workers are repeatedly going in and out of the polling place. In one instance, Democratic Ward Leader Carlos Matos was seen going in and handling the voting machines.
- At Bethune School, the Republican poll workers are walking in and out, escorting voters inside.
- At Bethune School, an election board member was seen inside the polling place with the write-in stamp of another candidate, likely that of Emilio Vazquez the main Democratic write-in candidate. The supervisor did intervene.
- At Munoz Marin School, a table was set up right next to the voting machine, covered with literature for Democratic candidate Emilio Vazquez, with voters being told that the table has "what they need to vote."
- At the polling place at 17th & Lehigh, located in an unspecified office, the Democratic committee people are telling people to vote for Democrat Emilio Vazquez inside the polling place as they check in to vote.
"We ran a great campaign and had amazing support from all over the community," said Honkala, reflecting on her short but intense nine-week campaign. "And regardless of what party you come from and who you voted for, we need to uphold the integrity of our democracy. We may be one of the poorest districts in the state, but that doesn’t mean that our voices shouldn’t be heard. Everywhere in this state, our elections need to be run in an open and honest manner that allows people to vote with integrity and not out of fear or coercion."
Cheri Honkala ran a serious write-in campaign for state representative in the 197th district that raised over $100,000 in individual contributions, involved the purchase and distribution of 750 stamps, conducted a video training in English and Spanish that was circulated on the Internet, and built this webpage to educate voters.
The long-time poor people’s advocate announced her entry into the race on January 31, and had been tirelessly seeking the people’s vote, gaining a key endorsement from the national progressive group started by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Our Revolution.
Honkala also garnered endorsements and support from local union leaders, community leaders, and local pastors, as well as actress Rosario Dawson, filmmaker Josh Fox, musician Tom Morello, and journalist Naomi Klein. She was interviewed on numerous progressive news programs including "The Jimmy Dore Show," "Redacted Tonight," and "The Young Turks."
It was the denial of Honkala’s ballot position due to a technical error that forced her to mount a write-in campaign. The Democratic Party, which lost this seat due to corruption, also mounted a write-in campaign with Emilio Vazquez, a little known employee of the Philadelphia Parking Authority. The Democrats’ first choice, Freddie Ramirez, was kicked off the ballot after a court concluded he did not live in the district.
"This is our democracy. We have to cherish it and fight to protect it." said YahNe Ndgo, campaign manager for Honkala. "The 197th district has suffered from a legacy of corruption. We cannot allow that corruption to completely poison even the bedrock of our society--our election systems--and go unnoticed and unpunished."
For more information, email [email protected] or call YahNe Ndgo at 215-390-4960. Find more information about Cheri Honkala at cheri197.com, and be sure to follow Cheri on Twitter and Instagram (@cherihonkala).