Operation Big Vote- St. Louis Style

After weeks of news about East St. Louis Voter Fraud/Attempted Murder a different voter fraud trial opened on the west bank of the Mississippi in St. Louis City this week:

The head of a voter registration effort (Operation Big Vote- a drive the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation refers to as its “cornerstone program” on its Web site) lied to a grand jury and destroyed voter registration documents to cover up her role in a fraud marked by attempts to register prominent dead local politicians to vote, prosecutors said this morning.

Nonaresa Montgomery, a paid worker who ran Operation Big Vote during the run-up to 2001 mayoral primary, is on trial this week in St. Louis Circuit Court on charges of perjury and tampering with evidence.

Big Vote was part of a national campaign — promoted by Democrats — to register more black voters and get them to vote in the November elections.

Montgomery is accused of hiring about 30 workers to do fraudulent voter-registration canvassing.

They were supposed to have canvassed black neighborhoods and recorded names of potential voters to be contacted later to vote in the Nov. 7 election. And they were paid by the number of cards they filled out.

Instead of knocking on doors, however, they sat down at a fast-food restaurant and wrote out names and information from an outdated voter list.

The charges stem from about 1,500 fraudulent voter registration cards that were turned in to the St. Louis Board of Elections on Feb. 7, 2001, the deadline for registering for the mayoral primary.

Board employees realized that there was a serious problem with some of the cards when they spotted the name of longtime alderman Albert “Red” Villa, who died in 1990.

Apparently Montgomery is not the one who filled out the fake voter registration cards (six Operation Big Vote workers pleaded guilty in December to dozens of election law violations and one still faces charges) but Montgomery failed to tell a local grand jury investigating the case about a meeting , and failed to mention when asked that she had copies of some or all of the voter registrations.

The meeting referred to in the case was in February 2001 where discussion about destroying the fake voter cards to stymie police investigators…

…a meeting where destroying the fake cards was discussed.

The meeting was at the campaign office of Comptroller Darlene Green.

The probable cause statement says Green attended, and “the idea of burning copies of the registration cards was discussed”.

Also attending: political consultant Pearlie Evans and St. Louis election board official Keena Carter. Carter (Assistant Democratic Election Director ) is now cooperating with investigators.

(Pearlie Evans is a former political assistant to Democrat Congressman Bill Clay. )

After the meeting at Green’s office, the voter cards disappeared, and have never been found.

The trial is expected to finish before Friday.

Montgomery faces up to seven years in prison on the perjury charge and up to four years on the tampering charge, in addition to fines of up to $5,000 on each charge.

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