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Dear 'New Times' readers

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In my column last week, “The meaning of fraud,” I discussed a rumor of election fraud carried out by my friend Al Fonzi and Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley, for an imaginary election that never happened. Atascadero did not hold an election in 2013. The allegation was just that, a suggestion of possible events without any supporting evidence, as were the rumors of stuffing ballots into Jerry Clay’s pigpens, and even possible violations of the moral integrity of one of Mr. Clay’s prizewinning hogs, which were never published.

For the record, there is absolutely no evidence that an election occurred in Atascadero in 2013 or that Mr. Fonzi or Mayor O’Malley have ever engaged in election fraud. Some readers felt that I was trying to damage the reputations of these men, but I wasn’t. I was illustrating the absurdity of giving allegations the status of facts, as I said in the column. Mr. Fonzi and Mr. O’Malley are good people, but they are prone to making just these sorts of allegations.

I stand by the point of the essay: People who make real allegations of voter fraud in the United States should also consider how their allegations affect the reputations of the thousands of election officials around the country who are responsible for ensuring the integrity of our elections.

-- Michael Latner - Atascadero

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