By Bruce Marks
and Alex Marks
Massive absentee ballot fraud. The Nuevo Metodo de Votar (New Method of Voting) designed to cheat Latino voters. Democratic campaign workers voting people who had died or moved from their election divisions years ago. Democratic machine thugs forcibly preventing Republican poll watchers from challenging fraudulent activity. Democratic city officials, who were responsible for supervising the election, participating in the wrongdoing. The Democratic state Senate candidate illegally sworn into office.
Is all this a figment of Donald Trump's mind? Hardly.
They were the findings by late federal Judge Clarence Newcomer, who overturned the 1993 election in Philadelphia's Second Senatorial District, removed my opponent from office, and found me to be the winner.
In criminal proceedings brought by Pennsylvania's attorney general, Democratic workers pled guilty to crimes although the masterminds who (temporarily) stole the election were never brought to justice. Afterward, Trump came to an event for my reelection because of the widespread coverage of the fraud in the Wall Street Journal and the Inquirer.
Now candidate Trump, remembering the 1993 election, warns of fraud and a rigged system in Philadelphia. Have things changed? Let's look at some more recent history:
After being caught on tape accepting cash from an undercover informant, three Democratic state representatives from Philadelphia pled guilty and resigned from office after being prosecuted by District Attorney Seth Williams. He pursued the case after now-disgraced Democratice Attorney General Kathleen Kane refused to do so. He also prosecuted a former state legislator and former Traffic Court judge, both Philadelphia Democrats, caught in the sting. Kane was convicted, and sentenced Monday, on perjury and other charges arising from retaliation against those challenging her failure to prosecute the state lawmakers.
In 2014, former State Sen. LeAnna Washington, a Philadelphia Democrat, was convicted of using state resources for political purposes. In June, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat, was convicted of racketeering and other charges related to his mayoral campaign. He resigned his seat and is scheduled for sentencing in December.
And before one forgets, former State Sen. Vince Fumo, a Philadelphia Democrat, spent almost four years in federal prison on corruption charges, including improper use of government resources for political purposes. In May, his successor, Larry Farnese, a Philadelphia Democrat, was indicted by the feds for allegedly attempting to rig his ward leader election.
Despite this sordid history of illegal voting and use of government resources for political purposes, it is unfair to suggest that Philadelphia's Democratic machine engages in fraud every year. Rather, conventional wisdom is that they only steal elections when they have to.
At a recent "no fraud here" press conference, some of Philadelphia's usual suspects decried Trump's accusations. Anthony Clark even attended. He's the Democratic chairman of the City Commissioners, which is responsible for supervising Philadelphia elections. He's known for not showing up for work and not voting. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who is also the longtime chairman of the Philadelphia Democrats, has referred to Clark as "an absolute disgrace." Trump should trust Clark to run an honest election?
When it comes to fraud, the issue is not how few people voted for Mitt Romney in certain city voting divisions, but how many votes may have been illegally cast for Democrats in divisions with no Republican poll watchers when votes are "rung up" before the polls open or after they close. Just last year, the District Attorney's Office brought charges against seven Philadelphia Democratic election officials for such fraud. Philadelphia's creed - Vote Early, Vote Often - is well-earned.
Given Philadelphia's history, and the problems that occurred in Florida in 2000, Trump's concerns are more than well-founded. Philadelphia Democrats may not steal 100,000 votes - as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is often accused of doing in the 1960 presidential election - but a few thousand votes could make a difference in a close Pennsylvania race.
People say "a few votes won't flip an election," but I am living proof that they can. Al Gore would likely agree.
My advice to Trump is this: Don't count on Philadelphia officials to run a fair election. The only way to ensure a free and fair election is to have your supporters watching the polls on Nov. 8 - early and often.
And, if you lose fairly, do what I did in 1994: Congratulate your opponent and move on.
Bruce S. Marks is a former Republican state senator from Philadelphia. email@example.com
Alex Marks, Bruce's son, is a student at the University of Southern California. firstname.lastname@example.org