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Entries in Voter Registration (2)

Tuesday
Oct022012

Voter Registration Fraud from GOP-Backed Firm Spreads

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A GOP-backed consulting firm may have submitted "hundreds" of faked voter registration forms in Florida, according to the Florida Secretary of State.

The GOP cut ties with the third party voter registering company Strategic Allied Consultants on Thursday after the Palm Beach County elections supervisor flagged 106 of the firm's registration forms for having similar handwriting, incorrect addresses and incomplete information.

Since then, elections officials in nine Florida counties have unearthed hundreds of possibly fraudulent registration forms.

The firm claims the issue stemmed from one employee, who was fired on Sept. 15, but county election officials claim the fraud was more widespread, stretching across counties that are more than 500 miles apart.

"I don't subscribe to the theory that this was the action of one single individual who was able to get into more than half a dozen counties from one end of Florida to the other," said Paul Lux, the Okaloosa County Election Supervisor.

Lux said that out of 2,200 forms that Strategic Allied workers submitted, he and his staff have found about three dozen that appear to be faked.  Some have signatures that do not match the names, others are only partially completed and a handful of forms have addresses that do not exist, he said.

"The problem is when you pay someone to do something like this, it kind of lends itself to what do you do to get paid?" Lux said.

The Republican Party of Florida paid Strategic Allied Consultants $1.3 million to register voters starting in July.  State party spokesman Brain Burgess said the Republican National Committee asked the state party to hire the consultants and paid for the firm.  Before hiring the consulting group, Burgess said Florida Republicans relied solely on volunteers to register voters.

Burgess said the party first learned about the supposed fraud more than one week after the firm fired one of its Palm Beach area workers for allegedly faking the voter forms.

Two days later, the Republican National Committee cut ties with the firm and asked state party officials in four other states to do the same.  Strategic Allied Consultants was registering voters on behalf of the RNC in five battleground states: Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada.

North Carolina election authorities have flagged five possibly fraudulent forms that the GOP-backed consultant firm submitted.  The state's chief election official Gary Bartlett said he believes it was an isolated incident because all five came from the same county.

None of the forms Strategic submitted in Colorado or Virginia have been flagged and the Nevada Secretary of State's office would not confirm or deny whether it was investigating any allegedly fraudulent forms.

But while Florida investigates these supposedly fraudulent registrations, election officials said they are not concerned that poorly filed forms will result in fraudulent ballots.

"I think the likelihood of that is very, very slim," Lux said.  "At the end of the day we aren't talking about fraudulent people getting on the voter rolls, we are taking about a lot of busy work."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul192012

Voter Registration? There‚Äôs an App for That

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Candidates are already using social media to get out the vote. Now some are asking, “Why not use social media to register to vote?”

As early as next week, Washington state residents will be able to do just that via Facebook.

The application, which was developed through a partnership among the state government, Facebook and Microsoft Corp., is the next step in digitizing voter registration in Washington. Along with 12 other states, Washington allows voters to register online. Washington is the first state to allow voter registration through social media.

The project originated out of conversations with Rock the Vote, an organization that works to register young adults to vote and engage them in the political process, according to Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections in Washington.

Rock the Vote wanted to transfer responsibility for registering Washington state voters to the state itself and, in deciding how to do so, the state department of elections focused on attracting new voters via the Internet.

“We had online registration in Washington for four years, we were the second state to offer it starting in 2008, and we definitely want to grow and expand the use of online registrations because online registrations are more efficient to process,” Hamlin said. “And, frankly, people expect to be able to do things online.”

Microsoft, which has a long working relationship with Washington’s state government, developed the app at no cost. Hamlin said Facebook is a partner in the project “in the sense that they are very interested in doing this.”

While the Facebook app does require users to allow the application to access their personal information, such as their name and birth date, this is information already saved to users’ Facebook profiles. Hamlin emphasized that other identifying information, such as the driver’s license or state ID card number that voters will still need to provide in order to register, will not be stored within Facebook’s databases.

Hamlin said that while the app is displayed within a Facebook skin, voters registering through the application are using a system within Washington state’s voter registration website. Users also must verify their residency in Washington State, which is automatically verified by the state’s records, and give the government permission to use the signature it has on file to complete the form. Both of these processes are handled solely by the state’s secure website. “Facebook is not capturing this information,” Hamlin said.

The state hopes that the application will encourage a wide range of new voters to register, as well as draw attention to its My Vote tool, a personalized resource available to every registered voter in the state of Washington. The site allows voters to update their address, view candidate statements and review which elections they have voted in, among other things.

Hamlin said that while the app was not developed to target any specific group of potential voters, “the younger demographic is a smaller proportion of our registered demographic, so that maybe is a way to grow registration in that demographic.”

“We’re really excited,” Hamlin said. “We do really think that this is going to increase the number of people that are registered to vote and also spread awareness of the availability of our My Vote tool.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio