Hallum says he 'corrupted' voting process
Posted: September 6, 2012 at 5:01 p.m.
LITTLE ROCK A Democratic state legislator from east Arkansas who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit election fraud said Thursday he believes he “corrupted” the voting process by participating in a scheme that included destroying ballots and exchanging money and food for votes.
State Rep. Hudson Hallum of Marion told The Associated Press he planned to resign from his House seat by Monday after pleading guilty in federal court along with his father and two campaign workers. Hallum and the others said in court Wednesday they participated in a conspiracy to bribe voters to influence the outcome of special elections held last year in Arkansas House District 54.
Hallum declined to discuss many specifics in the AP interview, noting that a state investigation is ongoing, but said that he realized during his campaigns for a special election to fill the House seat that he and others had crossed a line in gathering absentee ballots.
“I didn’t initially really feel like what I was doing was wrong because I always heard that that’s what you do over here,” Hallum said. “As things started to progress, I started to realize that we were doing some things that were wrong and I just got wrapped up in the middle of things and I just turned away from it and allowed it to go on. That was wrong on my part.”
Prosecutors said Hallum and his father, Kent, tasked campaign workers Phillip Wayne Carter and Sam Malone with obtaining absentee ballot applications for certain voters and assisting voters in filling out the ballots, while “actually completing absentee ballots in some instances without regard to the voter’s actual candidate choice.”
The ballots were typically placed in unsealed envelopes before being mailed to local election officials. Prosecutors said if a ballot had been cast for Hallum’s opponent, it was destroyed. Prosecutors also accused the four of offering money and food to absentee voters in exchange for their support.
When asked whether he believed he could have won without participating in the scheme, Hallum told the AP: “That’s an answer we’ll never know because I corrupted the process.”
Hallum won the east Arkansas seat in a special election last year following the resignation of Rep. Fred Smith, who stepped down after he was found guilty of felony theft of property delivered by mistake. A judge later dismissed the theft case, but Smith was blocked from running in the Democratic primary against Hallum for his old seat because he had a conviction at the time he filed.
Smith is now running as the Green Party nominee for the seat. No Republican is running.
Hallum declined to say how much money had been spent on buying votes, but said it was a “minimal” amount. He said he was most ashamed about the destruction of the absentee ballots.
“I didn’t know that initially, but I did find out that it was going on and I absolutely did nothing to stop that,” Hallum said. “That’s the most shameful part of the whole deal for me was the ballots being destroyed. That’s the most evil part of this deal.”