Defeated council candidate: Poll fraud was rampant in Hasidic W’burg

The Brooklyn Paper
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Defeated council challenger Stephen Pierson claims that his people saw loads of voter fraud in the 33rd District on primary day — and that it is not just sour grapes talking.

“We prevented a couple of hundred of fraudulent voters, but there was too much going on to stop them all,” said Pierson, fresh off a loss to the incumbent councilman serving the district that includes Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint, and parts of Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Boerum Hill.

Pierson said that the amount of fraud he suspects would not have tipped the scales and that he will not contest his loss to 33rd district incumbent councilman Steve Levin, but that the phony votes should not go unchallenged. Levin, who lives in Greenpoint, sailed to victory with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Most of the ballot box funny business took place in the predominantly Hasidic southern part of Williamsburg where the majority of votes are cast in the district, said Joel Vengrin, who acted as Pierson’s head poll watcher.

Vengrin said that he personally witnessed about a dozen fraudulent voting attempts, including voters whose signatures did not match those on the voting record and voters whose ages were obviously different from the one on the voting record. Some voters came in only to find that someone else had already voted under their name, according to Vengrin.

A Board of Elections poll worker echoed Vengrin’s claims to the web site Gothamist, which also reported 14-year-olds trying to vote at Williamsburg polling places and men collecting voter names at raffles on the sidewalk outside.

In most cases, Pierson’s poll watcher says he sent the interlopers packing.

“The polling officials were pretty diligent about checking signatures,” said Vengrin. “They made sure there was a fair process.”

This is not the first time a candidate has leveled allegations of fraud against members of Williamsburg’s Orthodox Jewish community. Last year, supporters of then-incumbent District Leader Lincoln Restler claimed that ballot stuffing was to blame for his loss to Chris Olechowski by a razor-thin margin. Restler spent more than a month in court challenging votes, but ultimately lost.

Steve Levin did not return calls for comment.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Willie Nelson's shoe from Dist 33 says:
Sounds like a case of sour cherries, am I right? Am I right?! Zing!
Sept. 12, 2013, 9 am
billy from bushwick says:
actually - i dont think restler went to court. they did a hand recount of the ballots that left olechowchski ahead by 15 or 19 votes...
Sept. 12, 2013, 9:42 am
Eradicator from greenpoint says:
Voter Fraud? According to the DNC(and all their PACs/Think tanks) that doesnt exist. Kind of ironic in a Dem primary. ID cards = problem solved
Sept. 12, 2013, 9:47 am
Jimi from Greenpoint says:
This is much more important to the Mayor's race than our Council district. Levin won by almost 7,000 votes and I have at least enough faith in the BoE that they would have noticed something if all of those were fraudulent.

If, however, De Blasio avoids a runoff by a few hundred votes or Thompson forces one by the same margin, that's where any fraud could really have made a difference.
Sept. 12, 2013, 11:31 am
Clint Eastwood's Chair from Dist 33 says:
@Willie, as Pierson states, the fraud would not have affected the outcome in his race. So i'd say no, you are not right :)

@Jimi, a solid point there. When are they releasing the final vote count in Mayor's race?
Sept. 12, 2013, 2:01 pm
Old time brooklyn from Slope says:
Check out The crime and corruption among the chasidum is stagering. Lots of fraud
Sept. 12, 2013, 6:28 pm
jay from nyc says:
ok, so if this is true, then line up the witnesses, have them sign statements, and then do an investigation, go pull the video cameras from the area, pull the voting books, talk to the poll workers, go to the houses of people whose votes are questionable and talk to them and see if they match the sign in book. For the next election, send in undercover people to infiltrate the synagogues (just like was done with the Muslim mosques) and sort this out. Oh wait, this IS Brooklyn, never mind, carry on.
Sept. 13, 2013, 8:34 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
jay - check out the link or google

it is pretty easy to vote twice. go to another district and do an affidavit. what needs to be done is bust them for attempted voter fraud and let them spend a few our a the 84
Sept. 14, 2013, 12:40 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
messiah that is
Sept. 14, 2013, 1:33 pm

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