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story.lead_photo.caption Hudson Hallum (right), D-Marion, is sworn in as the District 54 representative July 21, 2011, in the House Chamber by Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hannah. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

— A state representative from eastern Arkansas and three others have entered guilty pleas to bribing voters in elections last year.

State Rep. Hudson Hallum, D-Marion, along with his father, Kent Hallum, West Memphis City Councilman Phillip Wayne Carter and West Memphis Police Officer Sam Malone entered guilty pleas to charges they plotted to bribe absentee voters to cast ballots for Hallum, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas said Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party said Hallum indicated he would resign his seat. Hallum didn't respond to phone messages seeking comment, but he apologized in an email to legislators. House officials said he hadn't spoken with House Speaker Robert Moore.

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“The most fundamental rights we enjoy as American citizens include the ability to vote and, if we so choose, to run for elected office. In a nation in which every person’s vote matters, protecting the integrity of the electoral process from those who seek to win office by cheating the system is critical," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Duke said in statement. "Voter fraud schemes such as that carried out in the 2011 District 54 race have the devastating effect of eroding public confidence in elected officials and disenfranchising voters."

The criminal activity was said to have occurred in the Arkansas District 54 primary, its runoff election, and the general election. A special prosecutor with the state is also reviewing the conduct and is expected to release his findings within two weeks.

On the federal level, each man was charged with conspiracy to commit election fraud. The charge carries a prison term up to five years and a fine of no more than $250,000.

According to information released by the U.S. Attorney's office, the Hallums tasked Carter and Malone with identifying absentee ballot voters in the District. They then made contact with those voters during the different elections, assisted them in filling out ballots and then inspected them.

"After inspection by Hudson Hallum or Kent Hallum, the absentee ballots that contained votes for Hudson Hallum were sealed and mailed to the Crittenden County Clerk’s Office," authorities said in a statement. "If a ballot contained a vote for Hudson Hallum’s opponent, it was destroyed."

Officials say the defendants admitted in court Wednesday that some voters received items of value in exchange for casting their ballot for Hallum. According to charging information, Carter and Malone bought one Hallum voter dinner. In another instance, Hallum approved paying $20 for dinner for a family of eight in exchange for absentee ballots being cast for him.

Authorities say Hallum at one point told Carter that "$20 to $40 was too much to pay for one vote, but that this amount was acceptable to pay for the votes of multiple members of a household," according to the statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.

"On that same date, Hudson Hallum also told Carter, 'We need to use that black limo and buy a couple of cases of some cheap vodka and whiskey to get people to vote,'" authorities wrote in the statement. "Two days later, Carter and Kent Hallum spoke with an individual in Memphis, Tenn. about getting a discounted price for the purchase of 100 half pints of vodka for the campaign."

Former Harlem Globetrotter and Green Party nominee Fred Smith is now the only candidate left to compete for the seat since no Republican is running.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Thank you for coming to the website of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. We're working to keep you informed with the latest breaking news.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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  • Hogball88888
    September 5, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.

    Election + fraud = DemocRAT

  • Packman
    September 5, 2012 at 4:52 p.m.

    No voter ID + bribe + political incest = Arkansas demorat politics since the time of Orval Faubus. Thank Gawd for a viable 2-party system.

  • tusk99
    September 5, 2012 at 4:53 p.m.

    So, all this hubbub over voter fraud across the country...and some of the first people to be prosecuted for it are actually elected officials. Oh, the irony.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    September 5, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.

    What low life's.

  • GoBigRed
    September 5, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.

    Umm...Just last week Rush Linbaugh admitted that Republicans engage in Voter Fraud.

    In Fact, it seems to go both ways. Over the past year, very high profile Republicans --- including this year's standard bearer, Mitt Romney; the Sec. of State of Indiana (the first state to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions) Charlie White; one time GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich; MO's new GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate Todd Akin; and the group hired the Sacramento, CA Republican Party to collect voter registrations this year for Rep. Dan Lungren; among others --- have each been revealed as having committed or participated in election fraud --- both voter registration fraud and actual voter fraud --- in state after state.

    Four aides to former long-shot GOP Presidential candidate and U.S. House Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, were indicted 08/09/12 on dozens of criminal felony and misdemeanor election fraud charges for having turned in over 1,500 forged and falsified signatures in a "blatant" and "disgraceful" attempt, as the state's AG described it, to qualify the Congressman for this year's ballot.

  • Delta123
    September 5, 2012 at 5:03 p.m.

    Unbelievable. And now the only candidate left in the race is the knucklehead the Democrats sued to keep off the ballot. There seems to be some question as to whether or not he even lives in the district and whether or not he's a convicted felon. Thanks alot Hallums. Hope they throw the book at you.

  • Delta123
    September 5, 2012 at 5:14 p.m.

    Hey 1soni, let's stay on point here. Let's focus on the fact that these morons were buying votes right here in Arkansas. No sense making a Democrat/Republican thing out of it. Hell, you couldn''t get elected dogcatcher in Crittenden County if you were a Republican so that's not the point. These sorry SOB's thought they could go and buy votes from the black folks and they got caught. Probably by the guy the Dems kept off their ballot. Let's hope they spend a little time at the Big House.

  • NoCrossNoCrown
    September 5, 2012 at 5:24 p.m.

    This was not a voter ID issue, this was an issue of people trying to buy the votes of eligiable voters and looking at ballots and discarding votes for the opposition canidate. No voter ID law would have stopped this despicable act.
    But, trying to prevent someone who is an eligiable voter from casting a ballot is just as despicible...,,and now some idiot state congressman wants to waste taxpayer money and grow government even bigger by enacting voter supression laws here. I guess if you can't win fair and square...create a law that will help you or your buddy win and they you can say that you are just following the law........ and not really cheating..........#whatacrock

  • RBBrittain
    September 5, 2012 at 5:30 p.m.

    Voter ID would have NO EFFECT on absentee-ballot fraud like this. It's just the 21st-century version of poll taxes and literacy tests; the kind of fraud it would prevent has occurred only 10 times NATIONWIDE in the last 12 years. It's just not worth the many thousands of legitimate voters a voter-ID law would disenfranchise in Arkansas alone.

  • GoBigRed
    September 5, 2012 at 5:52 p.m.

    Pat- just pointing out to Hogball and Packman that it is a 2 party event and not limited to Democrats. That said, I agree that I hope they get the book thrown at them.