April 9, 2014 —
When the dust cleared on the last day of the Bloomingburg voter registration trial a number of issues were made clear. One very important concern was left unclear.
The Sullivan County Board of Elections (BOE) affirmed all of the 145 voter registration challenges made by Anita Hoppe. In fact, the attorneys representing those whose registrations were challenged conceded they had no arguments to make factually with regard to the content of the challenges or the BOE’s written determination. The BOE characterized the registration effort as a “sham.” Judge Schick made clear the BOE’s investigation, review of the challenges and their election procedure were legal and appropriate when evaluating both residency and voting qualifications. Thus, none of the challenged voters—all claiming to live in buildings owned by Shalom Lamm’s LLC’s—will have their votes counted. The judge was kind in calling the effort by Lamm to impose his will on the election, “An attempt to stuff the ballot box.” The citizens of Bloomingburg called it, “A massive, voter registration scheme designed to manipulate an election.” Game over. The win goes to Lamm’s opponents, the Rural Heritage Party.
Not so fast. What is to become of Shalom Lamm?
On election day, Lamm stood before the media and said, “My faith in America is shaken. Today I was denied the right to vote like every other American.” Despite the misleading implication that he was denied his right to vote, Lamm voted like many in the election, by affidavit ballot. This allowed all to vote while their registrations were fully vetted by the BOE. Using the media and the courtroom, Lamm and his attorney cried from the mountaintop that anti-Semites and “haters” were trying to destroy his right to vote and conduct business in Bloomingburg. They also claimed the BOE ruled against Lamm and his 140 purported tenants because the board itself was anti-Semitic. Judge Schick was having none of it. He said, “The only thing worse than anti-Semitism is the false accusation of anti-Semitism.”
Lamm and those challenged by Hoppe were subpoenaed to appear in court twice and were instructed to bring with them any information they had to support their claim of residency and right to vote. This was their chance to support their claims. In violation of the law, not a single person appeared, including Lamm. Instead, faced with no substantive legal argument and the threat of perjury, loss of government benefits and prosecution on felony charges for election fraud, Lamm and his minions folded. Officially, Lamm “withdrew” from the case, not on the merits, his attorney said, but because Lamm had the good of the community in mind. Judge Schick’s response? “Oh, I think your client’s withdrawal has everything to do with the merits.”
When Shalom Lamm had the chance to be and act like an American, in the America of free speech, free elections, free enterprise and personal responsibility, the America he so often uses to bolster the rationale for his conduct, he balked. Judge Schick admonished Lamm and all of the no-shows for making a mockery of our democracy by claiming their sacred right to vote was violated and then not having the gumption and integrity to seek truth in the court of law. It is now time for Lamm and all involved in these shenanigans to pay the piper. He should be ordered to pay all court costs and the legal fees incurred by the citizens of Bloomingburg. Lastly, District Attorney Farrell will have much explaining to do if he cannot explain publicly why all involved are not prosecuted.
[Andrew B. Weil resides in Town of Mamakating, NY.]