BOSTON Everett Democratic Rep. Stephen “Stat” Smith will resign, effective Jan. 1, after federal prosecutors announced Thursday that he has agreed to plead guilty to civil rights violations for his role in submitting absentee ballot applications and casting invalid ballots during elections in 2009 and 2010.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced the news, saying Smith, 57, will plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. Under his plea agreement, he will not be allowed to seek elected office for five years.
Prosecutors said Smith is alleged to have cast invalid absentee ballots in support of his races for office for voters who were ineligible or unaware of ballots being cast in their names
“Fair and free elections are the foundation that this great nation was built upon. Our electoral system is unrivaled, and it is egregious that an elected member of our Commonwealth would rob his constituents of a fair and honest election,” Ortiz said in a statement.
Smith allegedly submitted fraudulent applications for ballots, and delivered the applications to ineligible voters or cast them himself.
“Over the last two years, the FBI methodically uncovered a voter fraud scheme designed to strip Massachusetts voters of their right to a fair election,” said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, in a statement. “Representative Smith, who was a member of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws, embarked on a scheme that he knew violated the ideals of our nation and disregarded the proud history of the commonwealth.”
In the 2010 primary election, Smith was criticized for casting an absentee ballot himself on a day when he was in the city helping to get out the vote.
“I had no idea where I’d be on Election Day,” Smith told the News Service at the time. “I didn’t know whether or not I’d be in town.”
Ortiz did not explicitly lay out the reason that the voters Smith organized were ineligible. Vote fraud has been a subject of debate at the State House with predominantly Republican lawmakers calling for tighter restrictions to keep ineligible people from casting ballots.