Police arrested a New York man for allegedly acquiring more than 100 absentee ballots, bearing the names of local celebrities and other prominent persons — without their permission — over the past two years.
Louis Koch was charged July 8 with using false information in voting and identity theft, after requesting that several ballots get delivered to his home, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal district court.
In the same complaint, Koch, a registered Democrat, reportedly viewed his act of harvesting ballots of well-known lawyers, journalists, and politicians "as a hobby."
Nevertheless, New York state officials were quick to apprehend Koch.
"We take ballot security very seriously," Vincent Ignizio, the deputy executive director of the elections board, told The New York Times. "We're proud we uncovered a potential vulnerability, and we'll continue to tighten up the process in order to ensure that security is paramount."
According to the complaint, Koch requested at least 95 absentee ballots in the last week of May, a move that involved "recognizable politicians, media personalities and lawyers."
None of the fraudulent ballots had been cast in any election, according to the complaint, and Koch told FBI agents it was never his intent to alter the composition of any political races.
The most recent flurry of ballot requests illuminates potential flaws in the system, since Koch was able to collect the ballot information by merely providing names, date of birth, counties of residence, and zip codes — for which he reportedly researched online.
After that, as the complaint attests, Koch directed the board of elections to deliver the ballots to his apartment in Manhattan or a family home in New Jersey.
The FBI reportedly searched Koch's two residences on June 30 and located 100-plus absentee ballots registered in the names of people from New York, California, and Washington, D.C., according to the complaint.
After his arrest, Koch — who was released on a $250,000 bond, pending further legal action — acknowledged to federal authorities that his actions were "foolish," but continued do it.
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