Seven San Francisco mayoral candidates sent a letter to federal and state officials today requesting an investigation into reports from the San Francisco Chronicle and the Bay Citizen that supporters of Mayor Ed Lee were filling in ballots for voters Friday.
The letter points to reported witness testimony and video allegedly showing staff members from the group SF Neighbor Alliance for Ed Lee for Mayor 2011 “completing ballots for voters” and “preventing voters from marking their ballots for other mayoral candidates”.
In the letter, the mayoral contenders ask Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to investigate these claims. The letter was signed by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, County Supervisor John Avalos, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, state Senator Leland Yee, Michela Alioto-Pier and Joanna Rees.
Lee stated in an interview this morning that the group in question has “nothing to do with my campaign” and indicated that he fully supported an investigation into the allegations.
Lee’s spokesman Tony Winnicker this afternoon repeated that while the independent expenditure group said it supported Lee, it was not connected to his campaign.
“I know the other candidates are trying to tar him with this, but these people had nothing to do with this campaign,” Winnicker said. “We support an investigation into these activities because the right to vote is important.”
Today’s letter also requested that federal observers and election monitors investigate the reported electioneering activity, in the interest of upholding the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the California Elections Code.
According to the letter, SF Neighbor Alliance staff were said to target Cantonese-speaking voters as they filled out ballots last week.
Among other voter rights violations, the candidates reference witness reports and video allegedly capturing SF Neighbor Alliance staff filling in ballots themselves and holding plastic stencils over absentee ballots to keep voters from voting for other candidates.