The Case of the Soggy Ballots

Tonight there’s a City College of San Francisco paralegal student sitting in jail, charged with three felonies and unable to make his $100,000 bail.

You probably think he’s accused of a major bank heist to get that kind of bail – and that was reduced from the $150,000 prosecutors originally requested. Practical Paralegalism has posted stories about actual working paralegals accused of stealing major bucks who weren’t even jailed upon arrest (and a few who were.)

The catch here is there’s no money involved, not even any hinky sex stuff like Above the Law gets to write about all the time.

But 75 ballots, a voting machine memory card, the voter roster, and an election worker’s cell phone did go missing from a residential polling place on November 2.

The Bay Citizen is reporting that paralegal student Karl Nicholas, who was working as an election worker for a pittance that day, and who allegedly went AWOL from his post at the same time the polling site materials (and co-worker’s cell phone) went missing, has been charged with “tampering with election equipment, stealing election materials and disrupting a government computer system.”

The public defender says the evidence against Nicholas is sketchy. Neither the ballots, nor any of the other items, were found at his residence or on his person, and the police report said there were no witnesses who saw him tampering with the broken voting machine. The soggy ballots were found the next day, contained in a plastic bag, floating in a nearby pond.

The stolen ballots had no impact whatsoever on the election results in a supervisorial race in a district where the current supervisor was not even up for re-election this year.

I’m not even sure where to go with the rest of this post. I hope Nicholas is able to make his bail, because his next court date isn’t until November 19. Prison seems kind of harsh for wet ballots and a violated voting machine.

And now we know that stealing election ballots is really, really, really bad, as bad as stealing actual money – even if they do turn up in a pond, wet but still kinda legible.

What we don’t know is who stole this bizarre collection of items from a local polling place (where I have never in my life seen anything remotely shiny or tempting enough to want to take with me when I leave, not even an “I Voted” sticker) – or why.

Why, why, why, why? (Notice the time of this post? This is why I have insomnia.)

Source: The Bay Citizen

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