A son who twice requested an absentee ballot for his deceased mother has been charged with felony voter fraud, and if convicted could spend as much as 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, the Suffolk district attorney said Friday.
Wayne Tappe, 57, of Water Mill, also twice requested an absentee ballot for himself, according to prosecutors. They said that comparing the applications allowed a forensics handwriting expert to conclude the forms submitted for Tappe's mother had not been filled out by her.
The Suffolk Board of Elections was informed Lucille Tappe had died June 16; her son then sought the absentee ballot for her on Sept. 4 and Oct. 6, prosecutors said.
The son applied for an absentee ballot for himself on Sept. 9, as well as in March, prosecutors said.
Tappe's arraignment on two first-degree counts of offering a false instrument for filing is set for Nov. 5. No defense attorney information was available in online court records.
Voter fraud is not a widespread problem, say experts, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, who late last month said the nation has experienced only occasional instances, and on a local level.
"Voting is the foundation of our democracy, and we will not tolerate any violation of the election process here in Suffolk County," District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said in a statement.
Sini said his office was committed to probing any voter fraud, and he urged anyone who suspects this crime to call the Public Integrity Bureau at 631-853-8298.