NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Ms. Blackwell.
MS. BLACKWELL: Madame Chairman and Commissioners, I'm Helen Blackwell. I'm Chairman of the Voting Integrity Project, a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to educating and equipping Americans to safeguard the integrity of their elections in their communities.
On request from local citizens, we will provide independent investigations of alleged vote fraud. We're the only national organization with this mission, and we have noted certain patterns in election fraud.
One such pattern, the apparent link between gambling and vote fraud, is strongly suggested by two of our recent investigations. My written testimony will give further details about how gambling interests in Louisiana and San Francisco may have changed the outcome of two elections.
In late November of '96, VIP was asked to investigate the very close challenged '96 Louisiana Senate race. We were the first outside, independent group to look at the allegations. The United States Senate is now investigating them.
That election day there were gambling initiatives on the ballot in all 64 parishes, and three initiatives in New Orleans where the bulk of the allegations center. As the returns came in that night, one Senate candidate was leading until nearly midnight. Then 70 precincts from Orleans Parish were reported, giving his opponent enough votes to win. The gambling initiatives won.
When observers arrived with the official count three days later, they found all 877 Orleans Parish voting machines unlocked and open, contrary to state law, which requires they be locked and kept locked until the count.
New Orleans Mayor Moriale favored and campaigned for the gambling initiatives and for the Senate candidate Landru. An unusual high voter turnout was reported in Orleans Parish, and witnesses and evidence attest to the following. Large sums of money flowing from the companies that would benefit from the gambling referenda were the following: vote buying, multiple voting by individuals, transporting voters with numerous vans and drivers supplied by at least three casinos in violation of state law, city employees coerced to campaign at the polls, illegal corporate expenditures by gambling companies, and election officials being paid by a casino.
The second election I call to your attention is the June 3, '97, San Francisco stadium initiative where they were voting on paying -- whether the taxpayer should rezone and back a $525 million stadium complex and all for the 49ers, a private corporation. The measure was unpopular. The polls showed it would lose. It was opposed by civic organizations, but pushed by the mayor.
On election night, final counts for four sections of the city reported unusually high turnout, were held back until midnight, and provided the narrow winning margin.
Other parallels with New Orleans were mysteriously disappearing ballot boxes, multiple voting, vote buying, intimidation of voters. The rest of this is in my written testimony.
We strongly urge you to look into this subject. I can think of no more serious social consequence than the erosion of our citizens' confidence in the integrity of their elections, which would undermine our very system of representative government.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Thank you.