In an apparent attempt to rally his base UAW Local 2865 President Daraka Larimore-Hall sent a message to his “supporters” claiming that the counting of votes was no longer possible due to politically motivated challenges on behalf of AWDU supporters. The email claims that “AWDU challengers at the count . . . blocked the counting of ballots at UCLA in an effort to erase their votes,” while also curiously claiming that “AWDU members attempted to physically prevent the election committee from leaving the ballot counting room.” It does not make much sense that AWDU supporters would both prevent the counting of ballots while forcing the election committee to remain in the ballot counting room. Which one is it Mr. Larimore-Hall? Did they try and prevent the counting of ballots or did they try and force them to count the ballots? More serious than this curious claim is that of voter fraud on behalf of AWDU supporters.
The main thrust of Mr. Larimore-Hall’s allegations of voter fraud are based a photograph that he posted along with his message. The photograph posted below shows a man with his hands clearly in what appears to be the ballot box at a polling location at Berkeley.
Mr. Larimore-Hall boldly uses this photograph as proof that “an AWDU supporter at Berkeley was photographed opening and rummaging through the ballot box while polls were open.” These are very serious allegations that Mr. Larimore-Hall apparently made very hastily and perhaps without actually looking at the photograph or asking any questions surrounding its circumstances. The first thing one notices when looking at the photograph is that this man is the only one present, aside from the photographer. Is it possible that the reason this man was left alone with all of the polling materials in a very contentious election is that he is the poll worker for this location? Furthermore, this man has been identified and has no connection with the AWDU organization. He simply responded to an email requesting the service of poll workers for the upcoming election. Where is the proof that he is an “AWDU supporter?” Should we just take Mr. Larimore-Hall at his word?
Upon closer examination one also notices the long shadows in the photograph. Could these possibly have been cast by the early morning sun? Say around 9:55 AM? If one looks closely at the photograph the box appears to have no tape on it yet. How is this possible? All ballot boxes are supposed to be adequately taped before polling begins. Yes, it is possible that this unidentified “AWDU supporter” arrived at the polls before they opened, only to find a vacated polling place, where he then rummaged through an empty ballot box, and all of this happened to be captured by a USEJ supporter on his or her camera which they then forgot about until late Saturday evening, when the vote appeared to be trending toward an AWDU victory. Or, the more likely context of the photograph is that this man is a poll worker setting up the polling station for a day of voting. If these accusations were true and caught on tape, why did Mr. Larimore-Hall wait until Saturday night to let his supporters know of such an egregious violation? Again, Saturday night is when the vote began to trend in favor of an AWDU victory.
Perhaps more troubling than the Mr. Larimore-Hall’s improper use of this photograph as a basis for claims of voter fraud are his allegations that “when USEJ members [left the vote count at UCLA], AWDU members hurled homophobic slurs at USEJ members.” This is ironic, especially considering that six of ten AWDU Executive Board candidates identify themselves as queer or bisexual. Given the record of AWDU members and candidates, the accusation that homophobic slurs were hurled at USEJ supporters as they abandoned the vote count is shameless and absurd. Using an accusation such as this in order to activate your base is unacceptable in any circumstance, regardless of how frustrated Mr. Larimore-Hall was with the prospect of losing the election. This misleading and disgusting accusation is hardly befitting of an individual who is or would like to remain the president of our local.
Join us in demanding that Mr. Larimore-Hall retract his accusations of voter fraud based on this photograph, apologize for and retract his claims of AWDU homophobia, and set the record straight about who is trying to steal the election. We demand that all votes be counted immediately, and AWDU candidate-members and members remain in the UAW LA office. They have been trying to get a neutral third party to take custody of the ballots to ensure that they will be safe and so that USEJ cannot claim that the ballots are “spoiled”. We continue to urge all members who voted in the election to e-mail Larimore-Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org) and International representatives Mike Miller (email@example.com) and Ken Lang (firstname.lastname@example.org) to demand that the counting resume in LA.