The New Paltz, NY Times Herald-Record has a story this morning on the conviction of Amy Little, Tate Hausman and Yolanda Hippensteele.
Political organizer from New Paltz guilty of illegal voting
By Alexa James
Posted: April 30, 2009 – 2:00 AM
NEW PALTZ — Conspicuous political mobilizer Amy Little of New Paltz pleaded guilty Tuesday to voting illegally in Ohio during the presidential election campaign.
During the race, Little worked for an independent get-out-the-vote group called Vote Today Ohio. While touting Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the battleground state, she also registered to vote there.
Little, 50, claimed she’d moved from her home in New Paltz to a place in Columbus, near Ohio State University. Her new address doubled as headquarters for Vote Today Ohio. Other transplants in the group also used that location to register to vote in Ohio.
According to Ohio election laws, voters must reside in the state at least 30 days prior to the election and must intend to stay there after November.
“From my perspective, I was within the law,” Little said Wednesday, suggesting she was “targeted by Republicans.”
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles Schneider saw things differently. In court, he said Little and her compatriots chose to vote in Ohio, instead of their home states, in an attempt to sway its electoral college toward Obama.
He sentenced Little, along with Daniel “Tate” Hausman, 32, of New York, and Yolanda Hippensteele, 30, of California, either to spend 60 days in jail or pay a $1,000 fine. Little said she’ll pay the fine.
The controversy also cost Little her role as a paid adviser for Rep. John Hall, D-Dover Plains. He cut ties with her when the investigation surfaced.
Little plans to continue her political work in New Paltz. The misdemeanor conviction “is such a footnote,” she said. “Obama won by a landslide (in Ohio) and that’s what I was working for.”
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said his office is investigating dozens of voter fraud cases.
Little is probably correct that the numbers of voter fraud cases would not have tipped the election. However, her public quotes portray her as taking it all very lightly. The Ohio law is pretty clear that residency was required to vote in the state. These three people never planned to stay there. It is an open question how prevalent this practice was. I think the conduct of the leaders raises questions about the integrity of the entire Vote Today Ohio operation. Many people came from out of state to work for VTO and get out the Obama vote during Ohio’s “golden week” of early voting. Organizers were asking for places to stay for these out-of-state organizers all over the state. How many of them followed the lead of the VTO leaders?
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told me yesterday that more indictments are on the way. Court documents relating to the case are here and here.
I investigated and followed this story along with Palestra through the Fall. You can get caught up quickly at this post. Months later, the three leaders of Vote Today Ohio were found guilty of voter fraud.
Here is the story from the Columbus Dispatch:
3 voting advocates guilty of fraud
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 3:33 PM
By Barbara Carmen
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Three staff members for Vote Today Ohio, an independent get-out-the-vote organization supporting Barack Obama, pleaded guilty in Franklin County this afternoon to voter fraud.
The three came to Ohio from states where Obama was likely to win in an effort to swing Ohio’s electoral college vote toward their candidate, Judge Charles A. Schneider said.
Given a year’s probation and a $1,000 fine were Daniel Hausman, 32, and Amy Little, 50, both of New York, and Yolanda Hippensteele, 30, of California. They told the court they had good intentions when they registered to vote and cast ballots the same day in early voting at Veterans Memorial.
“I was paying rent and living full-time in Ohio,” Hippensteele told the judge, “I didn’t attempt to vote in another state. … I think it’s all a misunderstanding. I have a profound respect for the voting process.”
Assistant Prosecutor Brian Simms said the three later tried to rescind their registration and cancel their votes; two were successful. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien had warned visiting campaign staff members that they shouldn’t vote here if they didn’t plan to stay after the election.
Schneider told the three that “rescinding your request is like giving back the money once you’ve been caught.”
Amy Little was fired as a campaign adviser to Rep. John Hall (D-NY) after it was revealed that she had voted in Ohio, despite a residence in NY and intentions to return to NY.
Michael Stinziano, Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said he expects there may be more such outcomes since his office referred more allegations to the prosecutor.
Lots more on this story here.
This morning Franklin County (OH) Prosecutor Ron O’Brien announced the first in what will be a series of indictments of individuals for voter registration fraud. Here is the new release via Palestra.net
I am wondering if the six cases referred last Friday involve these folks or this woman?
Palestra.net reporter Tiffany Wilson is reporting this morning that Amy Little, and Yolanda Hippensteele have withdrawn their votes in Ohio. Tate Hausman sought to do so but his vote had been opened and he cannot do so. He is seeking to withdraw his registration. The legal implications are unclear to me at this point. I had initially written that Hausman had withdrawn his vote but Ms. Wilson clarified in an email that Mr. Hausman’s vote had been opened.
Amy Little was recently fired from her job as adviser to NY Rep. John Hall.
There are other out-of-state voters that have been turned in to the Franklin County Board of Elections, no word as yet on their intentions.
More to come…
I talked this morning with Carolyn Gorup at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus, Ohio. She noted that 200 absentee ballots have been pulled for review. Some of these were due to inability to verify the address. Others, however, were due to concerns about out-of-state voters entering Ohio to vote. The Vote Today Ohio group is one that was specifically identified.
Ms. Gorup indicated that the BOE is very serious about maintaining the integrity of the election and are actively researching leads about improper out-of-state voters. Information can be emailed to the Franklin County Board of Elections at boe (at) vote.franklincountyohio.gov.