How much cheating did “No Labels” do to become legitimate?

Jamie Johnzon and George Andrews/Law enforcement photos

TOPEKA – The arrest of a Florida woman on charges she forged petition signatures to get the “No Labels” party sanctified in Kansas highlights other incidents of alleged forgeries by party supporters across the country, and calls into question just how much cheating went on in the attempt to debut the party into American politics.

The Kansas Attorney General’s office said Jamie Johnson, 47, of Dade City, Florida, was arrested May 29 for forging signatures on petitions to make “No Labels” an officially recognized political party in Kansas. Secretary of State Scott Schwab reviewed the allegations before forwarding the case to Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach’s Office. An additional arrest was made from Dade City of George Andrews, 30, was made in February on similar charges from Kansas.

Other red flags have popped up about No Labels. The Rhode Island Currant reported in January the Jamestown Board of Canvassers unanimously voted to refer some of the party petition papers submitted by No Labels to the Jamestown Police Department, after flagging two dozen signatures of registered voters that did not match the handwriting on town records, Jamestown Canvassing Clerk Keith Ford told the outlet. Meanwhile, the Cranston Board of Canvassers has also flagged an “unusually high” number of suspicious signatures on papers turned in to the city, including 10 signatures of deceased residents, according to Nick Lima, the city’s election director.

The Maine Wire report town clerks in Maine have raised concerns about the practices employed by No Labels in its effort to register voters in the state. At least one voter — a selectman in Clifton — has said his signature was forged on registration documents. The outlet said allegations that No Labels has deceived voters into switching their registration to the fledgling party resurfaced on an email listserv used by Maine’s municipal employees, according to copies of the emails obtained by the Maine Wire.

The No Labels incidents add substance to continuing concerns about election security.

“As attorney general, I am determined to prosecute election fraud to the fullest extent of the law,” said Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach. “It doesn’t matter how far you run. We will drag you back to Kansas and prosecute you,” Kobach said.

The arrest comes following an extensive investigation by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and intense efforts by law enforcement in Nebraska and Johnson County, Kansas, to track down Ms. Johnson. Johnson is charged with multiple counts of election fraud in Johnson County District Court, including one count of election perjury and 18 counts of election forgery. She is currently detained in Nebraska pending extradition to Kansas and appearance in Johnson County District Court. 

“As I have always said, my office is committed to pursuing any evidence of election crime. Kansas has strong laws to ensure the integrity of our elections, and this case demonstrates that the process works,” Schwab said.

A press release from Kobach’s office noted both suspects should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.