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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Karl Bradfield Nicholas, Allegedly Thieving Poll Worker, Baffles Colleagues

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge Return that ballot, man!
  • Return that ballot, man!

Staff at the city's Department of Elections are still mystified as to why poll worker Karl Bradfield Nicholas would allegedly run off with 75 ballots and some otherwise useless electronic election material.

Nicholas, who was arrested at his Ingleside home early Wednesday morning, was the poll inspector -- essentially the manager -- of an Excelsior polling place. He is charged with swiping the ballots, a roster of voters, as well as a "memory pack" -- which resembles an eight track tape and is about as valuable on the open market. "This is bizarre," said John Arntz, the head of the city's Department of Elections.

This was Nicholas' first San Francisco election, and certainly his last.

Arntz said he'd worked a prior election in Marin County, and "in all

his interactions with anyone in the department, he seemed to be a real

good candidate to be a poll worker. There were no red flags from this


Nicholas, 50, was charged with three felonies: Two violations of the elections code and burglary. He could be facing years in prison for his alleged crimes.

His actions also baffled fellow poll inspectors SF Weekly spoke to, who couldn't understand why he'd blow his $145 stipend check. Would-be poll inspectors are required to take an aptitude test -- though the inspector we spoke with noted that the test questions are all lifted from two pamphlets conveniently placed next to the computer one takes the test on. Those who do well on the test qualify as inspectors; those who do less well are poll clerks.

No background check is required. Arntz said he's not sure it's legal to perform a background check on a poll worker. "Legislation has been written, but it's never passed." Regardless, undergoing such checks for 2,700 poll workers would be a costly and arduous process.

The materials Nicholas is charged with swiping have not yet been returned. It remains to be seen whether the 75 ballots in question will be a factor in a tight local election.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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