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Former South Philly Judge of Elections Charged in Voter Fraud Scheme

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This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion

Some in the media like to pretend that voter fraud is a hoax and never happens, but a new report shows that a staffer of a Philadelphia politician had been engaging in voter fraud since 2015.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Arbittier Williams, filed federal charges against Marie Beren, 67, that alleged she had participated in a voting scheme from 2015 – 2019 in three South Philadelphia voting divisions, Philadelphia Magazine reported.

Beren, who is a staffer for Philadelphia City Councilmember Mark Squilla, was charged with four counts of voter fraud and related offenses, including conspiracy.


The prosecutors charged that Beren was involved in a conspiracy with an individual only identified as Consultant #1, who is said to be a former elected official who “held himself out as an effective and successful political operative capable of ensuring his clients’ electoral success.”

That consultant, who Philadelphia Magazine is believed to be former Democrat United States Rep. Ozzie Myers, “exercised influence and control in Philadelphia’s 39th Ward by distributing cash payments and supporting family, friends, and allies for elective office in the 39th Ward, and installing Ward Leaders, Judges of Elections, and Democratic State Committee,” it said.

The feds say the consultant recruited and installed Beren as a committee person for the Democratic Party in South Philadelphia’s 39th Ward in approximately 1984. Four years later, that same consultant recruited Beren to serve as a judge of elections for the 39th Ward’s second division, the judge of elections essentially being the person in charge of a polling place during the primary and general elections. In this case, that polling place was located at the Seafarer’s Union Hall at 4th and Shunk streets. Two other divisions — the 11th and the 16th — vote at that same location. As the feds put it, Beren was the “de facto judge of elections” for all three divisions.

In 2015, Beren stepped down as the judge of elections to become a poll watcher. She “installed” her replacement, prosecutors say. And according to the federal government, Beren “continued to effectively run all three divisions located at the Seafarer’s Union Hall from 2015 through at least 2019” even though she was no longer officially in charge.

And 2015 is when the alleged conspiracy begins.

The government claims that the consultant in question directed Beren to add fraudulent votes to candidates supported by the consultant. In some cases, the candidates were clients of the consultant. Prosecutors say that these fraudulent votes were cast for candidates at every level of government, from municipal to state to federal.

When Election Day came around, the consultant would drive Beren to the polling place in the morning, giving her instructions along the way. According to the feds, Beren perpetuated voter fraud in a variety of ways. She would allegedly advise in-person voters how to vote, a violation of election law. She allegedly cast fraudulent votes herself in place of voters she knew wouldn’t be coming to the polls. (The government doesn’t make clear how she knew they wouldn’t show up.) The government also alleges that she would encourage and permit in-person voters to vote on behalf of absent family members, “steering” those voters in support of the consultant’s candidates of choice.

The complaint alleges that Beren and others falsified the voting book, writing down names of voters who never came to vote so that the numbers would match.

Prosecutors have not yet said how many illegal votes Beren and her cohorts cast or if those votes affected any election wins.

“These allegations are an encouraging sign that our partners in law enforcement continue to investigate and prosecute voter fraud at polling places, as they’d done in the past in conjunction with our office,” Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt said to Philadelphia Magazine when asked for a comment.

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