The campaign manager for a candidate attempting to get on the ballot in the 2021 New Jersey governor’s race has been charged with election fraud, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
City of Lambertville resident James Devine, 61, is accused of submitted almost 2,000 fake petitions in an effort to get his candidate on the ballot for the Democratic primary.
Devine was charged Tuesday with one count of third-degree offenses concerning nomination certificates or petitions, one count of third-degree tampering with public records or information and one count of fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records, according to authorities.
Devine’s first court appearance has not yet been scheduled.
If found guilty, he could be sentenced to a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $15,000 for the third-degree crimes and up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for the fourth-degree offenses, prosecutors said.
The investigation alleges that Devine emailed the New Jersey Department of State’s Division of Elections nearly 1,948 false voter certifications to support a petition for governor on April 5, 2021 to nominate Lisa McCormick for the Democratic primary election that was scheduled for June 8, 2021.
The New Jersey Democratic State Committee filed a written challenge to the submission on April 9, 2021, citing several issues with the voter certifications.
“The challenge stated that every certification used the same fonts and signature style, one voter was deceased, and every instance had the same number of extra spaces between the city name and “NJ” in the address line, indicating the use of a computer program, according to authorities. “one count of third-degree offenses concerning nomination certificates or petitions, one count of third-degree tampering with public records or information and one count of fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records,” authorities said in a statement.
The Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey N. Rabin removed McCormick from the ballot after a hearing held on April 13, 2021, citing the irregularities.
After the judge’s ruling, detectives began investigating the irregularities.
In interviews, multiple people whose names were on the petitions said they did not “submit a petition or authorize one in support of McCormick’s nomination,” authorities said.
Devine later admitted to detectives that he had uploaded erroneous voter information onto petition forms that were submitted to elections officials on behalf of McCormick’s campaign, authorities said.
“At a moment in our history when American democracy is facing some of its most formidable challenges from false claims about elections and questions about election integrity, my office will not tolerate any sort of fraud that attempts to deceptively and unfairly benefit a candidate or undermine free and fair elections in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Matthew Platkin.
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability Executive Director Thomas Eicher said: “Fraudulent acts like this erode faith in our government and the rule of law, and there must be consequences.”
Devine is a familiar name in New Jersey politics.
The Bergan County Daily Voice reported a political action committee he ran was fined in 2018 for not disclosing the names of contributors or some expenses. The publication also reported he was previously charged with diverting $2,244 in campaign funds from a past race.
Editor’s Note: All individuals arrested or charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The story was compiled using information from police and public court documents.