LaRita Cooper-Stokes accused of election fraud
By Othor Cain
Less than 160 votes propelled LaRita Cooper-Stokes to victory in a special Ward 3 election. Now 12 jurors will decide whether she can keep her seat.
Testimony began Tuesday, June 5, in Cooper-Stokes’ election fraud trial. Five witnesses took the stand after opening statements.
Joyce Jackson, Cooper-Stokes’ opponent, said there were several laws broken by Cooper-Stokes’ campaign and poll workers. Jackson is challenging the election results, hoping to send voters back to the polls for another election.
Jackson’s attorney John Reeves said state laws were broken at five voting precincts, including campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place, aiding voters at the machines that didn’t ask for help and playing campaign radio ads at the polls.
Cooper-Stokes was sworn in March 2, the day Jackson filed suit seeking another run-off election. She [Cooper-Stokes] maintains nothing was done illegal. Cooper-Stokes referred all questions to her attorneys. Representing her are Bruce Burton and Imhotep Alkebu-Ian.
Burton said, “It is unfortunate that we have to be here, we are sure the people expressed their will on election day.” “As far as our investigation goes, we found no irregularities.”
Reeves said he intends to call 30 witnesses who have proof of Jackson’s allegations, including several that appeared Tuesday.
Clarence Henderson, a Jackson campaign worker, said, “One lady came up there and whispered in my ear, vote for Mrs. Stokes, cause we need her, she’s the lady.”
Michael Hayes who was a poll watcher said he saw several violations of state law. One was the parking of the vehicle with campaign literature in the windows for a half hour, right in front of a polling place. Hayes said one precinct had a radio on that was playing a vote for Stokes commercial.
Cooper-Stokes’ attorney said this is the case of a sore loser.