A Compton city councilman and five other people were charged with obtaining fraudulent votes in a runoff election that was ultimately decided by one vote, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.
Councilman Isaac Galvan, 34, Jace Dawson, 34, Kimberly Chaouch, 48, Toni Morris, 34, Barry Reed, 61 and Reginald Streeter, 51, have all been charged with conspiracy to commit election fraud.
Galvan also faces one count of attempted bribery with intent to influence an election, officials said. The Los Angeles Times reported he was also arrested Friday.
Galvan and Dawson, a former candidate for the Compton City Council, worked together to secure votes to ensure Galvan would retain his District 2 seat during a runoff election in June, the criminal complaint alleges.
Chaouch, Morris, Reed and Streeter, meanwhile were allegedly registered to vote at Dawson’s address in Compton, even though they didn’t reside there. All four are charged with voting illegally in the election.
Galvan ended up winning the election over challenger Andre Spicer, but the final count was 855 to 854.
Galvan is also accused of trying to bribe a registrar employee as she was counting ballots on election night, officials said.
Galvan and Dawson pleaded not guilty to the charges Friday. The remaining defendants will be arraigned at a later date.
“Elections are the cornerstone of our democratic nation. We must do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the electorate process and to ensure that elections are free and fair,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “The people of Los Angeles County expect and deserve a government that is free of political corruption at every level.”
The case remains under investigation by the DA’s Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office.
In a statement, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said he was “encouraged” to see the DA file charges in the case.
“Any attempt to disrupt or undermine the elections or voter registration process is unacceptable and will be reported, investigated, and pursued,” Logan said. “These charges and the activities alleged in this case are serious and strike at a time when public confidence in our electoral process is in decline and misinformation about the security of voting is rampant.”
Logan explained that records associated with the department’s voting model, voter registration records and vote by mail ballots helped in identifying “suspicious activity” in Compton’s general election.
He added that despite this instance of fraud, voters should be confident in the county’s voter system.
“Voting by mail is a safe and secure method of voting and has been for many years,” Logan said. “Malicious actors who break the law and participate in voter fraud will be discovered, investigated, and held to account.”