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Pa. election: Fraudulent "sample ballot" lists Jamie Gauthier's council challenger as incumbent

Pa. election: Fraudulent "sample ballot" lists Jamie Gauthier's council challenger as incumbent
Pa. election: Fraudulent "sample ballot" lists Jamie Gauthier's council challenger as incumbent 02:08

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Election Task Force at the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has received 19 calls for issues at the polls, including one for an investigation over a document purporting to be the "Official Democratic City Committee Ballot."

READ MORE: DA's task force to make sure Election Day runs smoothly in Philadelphia

The document was being passed out during voting hours in Cobbs Creek, which is in the Third Council District currently represented by Jamie Gauthier.

Gauthier, a Democrat, is running against independent Jabari Jones.

A fake "sample ballot" purporting to be from the Democratic City Committee listed challenger Jabari Jones' name instead of Jamie Gauthier's in the City Council race. CBS News Philadelphia

But the "official" ballot listed Jones' name in a group of "incumbent Democrats" voters should vote for.

The Election Task Force is investigating and says charges could come. For now, the city's Election Court has issued an injunction against the fraudulent sample ballots, Jane Roh, a spokesperson for District Attorney Larry Krasner, said in an email.

"The injunction means those ballots cannot be distributed to voters and that law enforcement may seize them on sight," Roh said. "The DA's Election Task Force is currently investigating several reports of those fraudulent ballots being distributed to voters."

The court order, a copy of which was obtained by CBS News Philadelphia, ordered sheriff's officers to be sent to the Anderson School at 60th Street and the Cobbs Creek Parkway, and the Morris Recreation Center on Spruce Street near 58th, to confiscate any sample ballots that listed Jones as the incumbent.

Jones and campaign staffers were ordered to stop distributing the fake sample ballots immediately.

A sheriff's officer was ordered to serve the court order from Judge Leanne Litwin directly to Jones.

Krasner held up a picture of the fake ballot document and spoke out at a news conference Tuesday.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner speaks at a press conference about issues at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2023. CBS News Philadelphia

"This is effectively a fraud, this is effectively a lie," Krasner said. "This effectively induces people who would've voted one way to vote another way based on what is arguably a fraud or what is arguably a lie."

Kai Mateo, Gauthier's campaign manager, released a statement on the document late Tuesday morning.

"From the petition period to Election Day, Councilmember Gauthier's anti-union, Republican-backed opponents have done nothing except lie and cheat because they know they can't counter her record and her wide-ranging support among real Democrats in West and Southwest Philadelphia. This blatantly false literature is just the latest example of their amateurish shenanigans. That's why the Court immediately put out an order to stop it. Jamie remains focused on finishing the campaign strong – talking to voters in every part of the district and addressing their concerns about gun violence, affordable housing, and city services."

Jones responded to CBS Philadelphia with a statement below: 

"Like I explained in my last video, there's a lot of shenanigans out here when it comes to Election Day and I'm hearing about a new rumor or something where somebody is circulating some kind of ballot or something and I just want to be very clear to any of my supporters that are out there that I don't have to rely on cheap tricks to win. I'm pretty confident in our numbers and I'm confident in the message that we're putting out to voters and I'm confident in the work we've done over the last few months in order to be able to spread our message and get voters to support us. So I'm telling anybody out there who's out there circulating something –  and I don't know if this is real or not. I'm just getting random calls and texts over this. But I just want to say to anybody out there doing this or thinking that this is helping me, please stop. It's only going to make our campaign look bad and they're only going to try to use this to take away from our victory that we're looking to have today."

What to do if there are problems with your ballot

Voters can call the task force at 215-686-9641 with any complaints about their polling location.

The task force will operate until the last polling place closes Tuesday night.

Polls close at 8 p.m.

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