The Nassau County Board of Elections voter registration form on Oct.15,...

The Nassau County Board of Elections voter registration form on Oct.15, 2020 Credit: Newsday/Newsday

ALBANY — The office of Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday issued a cease-and-desist letter to a group that voters accused of going door-to-door to “confront voters,” falsely claiming to be election workers and falsely accusing voters of felony election fraud.

The letter to Newburgh-based NY Citizens Audit Civil Fund ordered it to end any “voter deception and intimidation” or face state and federal charges. The letter was sent by the state attorney general’s office Voting Rights Section chief, Lindsay McKenzie.

“These allegations, if true, constitute unlawful voter deception,” McKenzie said the office “will use every tool at its disposal to protect New York voters.”

The group didn’t initially respond to a request for comment. A November 2022 news article by New York Now said the group’s founder, Marly Hornik, is an election denier who says Republican President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, which Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The state Attorney General's Office has issued a cease-and-desist letter to a group that voters accused of going door-to-door falsely claiming to be election workers and falsely accusing voters of felony election fraud.
  • The letter to Newburgh-based NY Citizens Audit Civil Fund ordered it to end any “voter deception and intimidation” or face state and federal charges.
  • The state Board of Elections issued a statewide warning on Sept. 1 that people were reported to be impersonating election officials in several counties, including Suffolk.

On Sept. 1, the state Board of Elections issued a statewide warning that people were reported to be impersonating election officials in several counties, including Suffolk. Voters said the fake officials were going door-to-door accusing voters of committing a crime because of alleged discrepancies in their voter registrations. At least six other states reported similar contacts.

McKenzie said the Attorney General’s Office has no evidence that the voters statewide who reported the visits had in fact committed any violation of election law. The letter states voters’ reaction to the visits “ranged from outrage to worry that their voting activity somehow violated the law.”

James gave the group five business days to report back to her about the cease-and-desist letter. James also ordered it to report by Oct. 2 about any “third parties” working with the group and to detail its training of representatives.

The organization’s website states as its mission: “New York Citizens Audit is dedicated to restoring and maintaining the essential, founding American principle of sovereignty through honest, provable elections in New York and across the nation. We are educating officials and the public about our findings and election law and presenting a Resolution for an end-to-end audit of our 2022 general election. Through this work, our thousands of citizen volunteers from Montauk to Buffalo are inspiring hope, and the renewal of the people as defenders and nurturers of the seeds of liberty that we inherited.”

The website seeks donations of $10 to more than $100, asking, “Please consider supporting our legal, resolution and public relations efforts"

In 2022 the Internal Revenue Service determined the group is “a public charity," giving it non-profit status and allowing it to receive tax-deductible donations and be exempt from federal income taxes. Its report to the IRS for 2022 stated the group received less than $50,000 in gross receipts.

The IRS lists the group’s principal or owner as Hornik living at the same Newburgh address given for New York Citizens Audit Civil Fund, the full name of the group.

In an August article for the American Thinker, an online conservative magazine, Hornik described herself as a “homeschool mother and dairy goat farmer in the state of New York.”

Also in August, Hornik was a speaker at a gathering of election deniers in Springfield, Mo. The event was hosted by Mike Lindell, the My Pillow CEO who faces a defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems after Lindell accused it of rigging the 2020 election lost by Trump. Dominion already has reached a $787 million settlement with Fox News in a defamation lawsuit.

The group’s account for X, formerly Twitter, states: “NYCitizens Audit invites you to join our growing team. Will train! Volunteers in roles large and small, from every county in NYS, are getting involved to secure ACCURACY of our elections. WE, the everyday American people working together, ARE THE PLAN!”

In a Sept. 16 news release, New York Citizens Audit issued a news release saying it investigated potential election fraud. In the release, Hornik complained that the state Board of Elections contacted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies about the group instead of investigating its claims.

There was no immediate comment from the state Board of Elections.

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