Most seasons bring unwanted rituals. Christmas begets horrid fruitcakes, Thanksgiving balloons our waistbands and San Francisco’s election season brings predictable accusations of voter fraud — with Chinatown seniors caught in the middle. This election, the Asian Pacific Democratic Club, comprised of local, politically active Asian-Americans connected to Mayor Ed Lee, is suggesting that a powerful Chinatown nonprofit, the Chinatown Community Development Center, may be connected to the theft of Chinese-speaking seniors’ votes. According to Tom Hsieh, a prominent political consultant in charge of the APDC, anonymous elderly Chinese-speaking voters were wrongfully persuaded to hand over their ballots, which were then filled out and illegally cast by someone else.
One of those ballots was filled out to vote for District 3 supervisor hopeful Aaron Peskin, Hsieh alleges, on whose behalf volunteers from CCDC are working. The mayor’s appointee, Supervisor Julie Christensen, is battling Peskin to retain her seat. Hsieh never outright says CCDC is behind the alleged wrongdoing, but he does say (repeatedly) the fraud happened in buildings “owned or connected to” CCDC.
John Arntz, head of the Department of Elections, told me he takes the allegations seriously, but “just because there are allegations doesn’t mean they are true.”
Still, DOE did net a few complaints, and the District Attorney’s Office confirmed it is “looking into” the matter. CCDC is a known political player, too. The housing provider has ties to powerbroker Rose Pak, and helped launch Mayor Ed Lee into his position.