A Long Island man was busted for allegedly requesting two mail-in ballots on behalf of his dead mom, authorities said Friday.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini charged Wayne Tappe, a 57-year-old registered Democrat from Water Mill in the Hamptons, with two counts of offering a false instrument, a class-E felony.
The arrest of Tappe comes as President Trump and New York voting rights advocates have expressed concerns about snafus including voter fraud because of the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots being filed and processed to lessen in-person voting and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Suffolk County Board of Elections reported receiving two applications to vote via absentee ballot from Lucille Tappe of Commack.
The applications for absentee ballots were signed in Lucille Tappe’s name on Sept. 4 and Oct. 6. But the Suffolk elections agency had been notified in June by the state Health Department that Lucille Tappe died on June 16.
The Suffolk BOE also received applications for absentee ballots from son Wayne Tappe on Sept. 9 and and in March.
Suspecting fraud, election officials referred the two applications purported to be from Lucille Tappe and the two applications from Wayne Tappe to the Suffolk County DA’s Office for investigation.
A forensic scientist at the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory subsequently conducted a handwriting analysis of the September application from Lucille Tappe and found that it was written by her son, Wayne, the DA’s office said.
“Voting is the foundation of our democracy, and we will not tolerate any violation of the election process here in Suffolk County,” Sini said.
“My office is committed to investigating any and all instances of alleged voter fraud and prosecuting anyone who attempts to violate the security of our elections.”
Sini urged Suffolk County residents to report suspected voter fraud to the DA’s public Integrity Bureau at 631-853-8298.
Tappe surrendered Friday morning and was given a desk appearance. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Suffolk County First District Court on Nov. 5 — two days after the election.
If convicted, Tappe faces a maximum sentence of one and one-third to four years in prison.
Tappe’s lawyer, William Wexler, dispute the charges of voter fraud. “He denies it. No such event happened,” Wexler said.
A Florida man was recently charged with requesting a ballot for his dead wife.
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