By Brittany Clingen
Jefferson City, Missouri: Yesterday, a Missouri man pleaded guilty to federal voter fraud after he admitted to providing false information which rendered him eligible to vote for his nephew in the August 2010 primary election. As part of a plea bargain, John Moretina, 60, conceded to a federal judge that he lied about his address so he could vote for his nephew, Rep. John Joseph Rizzo (D-19), who was running in a different district than that in which Moretina lived. He faces up to five years in jail and a fine.
Rizzo defeated his democratic opponent, Will Royster, 664 to 663, a difference of only one vote. He subsequently won the general election, becoming the House representative for Missouri's 40th district. Interestingly, Moretina was charged with a federal crime, not for illegally voting in the wrong district, but for illegally voting in two separate federal races, his district's, as well as Rizzo's. Since US Congressional candidates were featured on this primary ballot, it is considered a federal offense. Had US Congressional candidates not been on the ballot, Moretina would not have faced federal charges, though he would still be subject to prosecution at the state level.
This case comes at a pivotal time, with many states, including Missouri, grappling over whether or not to pass more lenient voting laws, or, conversely, implement voter ID requirements.