Arrests have finally been made in the ballot fraud case in the city of Troy, the culmination of a two year investigation that feels like it has dragged on forever. The arrests include the sitting City Council President, Clem Campana, who in light of the scandal dropped out of the 2011 Mayoral race which was subsequently won by replacement candidate and local business owner (re: non-politico) Lou Rosamilia.

Campana pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony charges of first-degree falsifying business records and illegal voting and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to promote or prevent election. Campana, who is free on his own recognizance, ended his campaign for mayor in mid-July.

The final and lesser charge comes with 10 pages of supporting evidence that names 49 voters whose absentee ballots were altered to vote for Democrats running in the 2009 Working Families Party primary. Most of the voters lived in Troy Housing Authority apartments and were unfamiliar with the voting process.The supporting evidence lists 29 instances and dates of illegal activities, which exposes Special District Attorney Trey Smith’s two-year investigation against the officials. The second grand jury investigating the case is still active.

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The attitude in many circles has been to downplay what I, in my naivete and own cynical apprehension towards the political process, view as reprehensible. Whether it’s a race for national office, a judgeship, or a municipal seat, I can’t help but feel betrayed by any elected official who would assist in casting so much as a single fraudulent vote in order to sway the outcome of an election.

If you ask a group of people what it means to be an American and what the country’s core values are, you will hear a litany of answers. Some will be similar but have different wording; some will wildly differ or even conflict with others. But I still believe that there can’t be any argument that one of those core principles is the simple belief of representative democracy and the need to maintain the integrity of the voting process.

It is bad enough that politicians often express disingenuous views and intentions in order to obtain elected office, but that is an unavoidable aspect of politics and life in general. Sometimes people disappoint you and, admittedly, sometimes concessions have to be made in order to get things done. But voter fraud is, in my mind, an inexcusable betrayal of one of the very, very few things that we can all conclusively hold dear regardless of our political, social, or cultural leanings. And though those currently accused and those who have slipped through the cracks would downplay the severity of it or even crack jokes with reporters in downtown establishments about their alleged involvement in the crimes, I personally view voter fraud as being not just akin to, but literal, treason. And I wish it was pursued as such.*

* Disclaimer: Before anyone gets in too big of a tizzy, please note that I oppose the death penalty.

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