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Criminal Justice

Compton Councilmember Isaac Galvan Faces Election Fraud Charges After Winning By 1 Vote

A man walk past a mural of Martin Luther King, Jr. outside the City Hall in Compton.
Compton City Hall.
(Mark Ralston
AFP via Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles District Attorney has charged Compton City Councilmember Isaac Galvan with conspiracy to commit voter fraud in a June runoff that helped him retain his seat by the narrowest of margins — one vote.

DA George Gascón announced the charges on Friday.

According to the criminal complaint, Galvan’s accomplice was Jace Dawson, a candidate for city council in the April primary. Dawson allegedly registered four people to vote at his own Compton address — but prosecutors say Kimberly Chaouch, Toni Morris, Barry Reed and Reginald Streeter were not residents of Compton.

All four are accused of voting fraudulently in the April contest, while three of the four also cast ballots in the June runoff election, at Dawson’s behest.

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After falling short in the primary, Dawson joined Galvan’s campaign in May and worked to collect ballots from hundreds of voters, including some who didn’t live in Compton, according to text messages shared by prosecutors.

In return, per the charging documents, Galvan appointed Dawson to a city liaison position. The then-Mayor of Compton, Aja Brown, voted against the appointment and called it “laughable.”

Galvan faces one additional count of attempted bribery for allegedly trying to pay off a registrar employee with concert tickets as she counted ballots on election night.

L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan said in a statement Friday that he had referred the case to the DA on June 9.

"Today the message is clear, if you attempt to disrupt or cheat in Los Angeles County elections, you will be prosecuted," Logan said. "Voting by mail is a safe and secure method of voting and has been for many years. Malicious actors who break the law and participate in voter fraud will be discovered, investigated, and held to account."

Galvan and Dawson were scheduled to be arraigned Friday. Galvan’s office could not be reached for comment.

His runoff opponent, business owner Andre Spicer, told us that his campaign received reports of improper activity by Galvan throughout the election cycle.

“He was buying people groceries, sports tickets, concert tickets,” Spicer said. “It was blatant."

The kind of corrupt activity described in the charging documents could further undermine the public’s faith in the electoral process, he said. "It's exactly what people have been telling us for years," Spicer added: "'Just don't trust the system.' And then you see evidence of it in broad daylight."

Spicer expressed hope the Compton City Council will appoint him to finish the rest of Galvan's term if the current councilman is deemed unfit to serve.

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“I ran a fair and honest campaign, and the people have chosen,” Spicer said.

City officials did not immediately respond to questions about Galvan’s future on the council.

Compton Mayor Emma Sharif said in a statement: “While we do not have all of the details regarding the charges brought against Councilman Galvan, the city takes any charges of elections fraud extremely seriously. Fair elections are the foundation of our democracy and must be protected and upheld as such.”

Read The Full Statement From Dean C. Logan

We will have more on this developing story.

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Updated August 13, 2021 at 1:31 PM PDT
This story has been updated with the statement from Dean Logan.
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