Karl Nicholas Sentenced for Ballot Theft

August 24, 2011

ADA Seth Steward, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1014
Erica Terry Derryck, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Karl Bradfield Nicholas, (CN 10032811), was sentenced to a year in county jail for stealing ballots from a polling place on November 2, 2010.

“The ballot box is sacrosanct,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “The right to vote is the basis of our democracy and will not be trampled on. As a poll worker, this defendant was entrusted to protect this right. Instead, the defendant violated that trust. This sentence makes clear that San Francisco voters will not be disenfranchised.”

Today in Department 12 of San Francisco Superior Court, the Honorable Anne Bouliane sentenced the defendant to one year in the county jail and three years probation for unlawfully carrying away/destroying a poll list and ballots lawfully polled in violation of California Elections Code Section 18568(e). As part of the terms of probation, the defendant must stay out of all San Francisco polling places including the basement of City Hall on Election Day. He must also stay out of the basement of City Hall on early voting days. The defendant must pay restitution and must reveal the location of the missing items that were not found in the Lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts.

According to court documents, in the middle of the voting day on November 2, 2010, Nicholas, a District 11 poll worker supervisor, suddenly left the polling place and absconded with tens of multi-page ballots, the voter roster, the voting machine memory pack, and the voting machine access key and poll worker’s phone. The defendant was arraigned and pled not guilty on Friday, November 05, 2010.

“Both the Police Department and the District Attorney's Office deserve much praise for their work in this matter,” said John Arntz, Director of the Department of Elections. “On Election Day, the Police Department promptly assigned personnel to locate the stolen election materials and had officers continuously working on the case for several days. The District Attorney's Office invested a substantial amount of time and effort not just in preparing for the court hearings but also in understanding elections processes. While the personnel from the District Attorney's Office certainly sought a fair sentence for Mr. Nicholas, they also demonstrated concern that he receive proper services as part of the outcome.”

The preliminary hearing occurred on Friday, November 19, 2010. The defendant was held to answer on all charges. On Friday, December 03, 2010, the defendant was arraigned on the felony information. On December 15, 2011 the defendant pled guilty to unlawfully carrying away/destroying a poll list and ballots lawfully polled in violation of California Elections Code Section 18568(e). Based on the plea, Judge Collins denied the defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea on April 13, 2011. Today, August 24, 2011, the defendant was sentenced. Assistant District Attorney Marc Katz prosecuted the case.