Registration scandals taint election process

Try as they might, election officials have been unable to identify vote-casting fraud anywhere in the United States.

But petition signature and voter registration fraud are alive and well, the latter cropping up most recently in Florida.

Election officials in 10 counties there have found either suspicious or fraudulent voter registration forms collected by a firm working for the Florida Republican Party.

The firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, was hired by Republicans in seven swing states to bolster Republican registration and turnout. The Republican National Committee paid the company about $3 million for get-out-the-vote operations.

In one Florida county, election officials said about 25 percent of the new registrations filed were obviously suspicious and missing required information.

The unfolding scandal is reminiscent of the voter registration fraud that once dogged ACORN, an association of liberal community action organizations.

ACORN conducted similar get-out-the-vote operations among low- and middle-income residents, but was similarly accused of fraud by temporary workers.

In any discussion of the subject, it is necessary to understand that voter fraud and registration fraud are not the same thing.

Voter fraud requires an ineligible voter voting, or an eligible voter voting more than once. This is so rare that the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office searched the commonwealth for it and was unable to find a single case.

Still, the Pennsylvania legislature went ahead with a restrictive voter ID law designed to prevent voter fraud.

Voter registration fraud is very different, and always has more to do with money than politics.

People looking for temporary work are hired by firms like Strategic Allied Consulting to collect signatures or obtain voter registrations.

The people doing the collecting are hired on a per-signature or per-registration basis, or must meet quotas to earn their pay.

The system invites fraud as low-paid workers try to collect as much money as possible before moving on to something else.

Maine has not been immune from the same sort of fraud.

In 2009, Sally Hebert, town clerk in Greene, was reviewing a list of signatures when she spotted the signature of a woman she knew, and knew it wasn’t her handwriting.

She called the woman who had supposedly signed the petition, and she denied doing so. Hebert began checking other signatures and found they were all phony.

The woman who had collected the signatures had been paid $1 per signature by a company operated by a local Republican, Stavros Mendros.

Another woman and another firm were convicted of conducting the same sort of petition-signature fraud in Maine in 2005.

While falsely registered people rarely (if ever) show up at the polls, they do cause extra work for election officials and can cause delays for legitimate voters on Election Day.

The solution to this very real problem is simple: remove the profit motive from the signature- and registration-gathering process.

This work used to be the domain of local political parties and of volunteer organizations such as the League of Women Voters, and it should be again.

Since Republican-led legislatures have been in search of ways to purify the democratic process, the best place to start would be banning the exchange of money for signatures or completed registrations.

The regular allegations that result from these campaigns lead people to think our election system is corrupt, even when it is not.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Seriously???

Unfortunately there is not enough room, and possibly interest, to recount the many cases of voter fraud covered in the media; which I am sure is just scratching the surface.

Fingerpointing in this area is a discredit to a process both sides should be trying to fix so neither side can engage in this practice. There is none so blind as those who will not see.

Reasonable precautions are proposed and then fought tooth and nail by the left with such comments as "poll tax" and "discrimination" and the infantalization of the the seniors and working class who obviously are too poor or too confused to get simple identification...should make you wonder....makes me wonder too!

In Maine, one vote can make a difference in a town election. I have seen it time and time again. If that person is elected by a fraudulent vote...one fraudulent vote too many!

When the sanctity of the ballot box is lost...we are lost as well.

voter fraud

Dis enfranchising legitimate voters is a crime also!

Jason Theriault's picture

Maybe we should listen to the GOP about voter fraud...

Maybe we should listen to the GOP about voter fraud..... They obviously have experience.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It was o.k. to have people

It was o.k. to have people show picture ID's to get into a recent oBAMa rallye, then it should be acceptable to show such identification when voting. There is only one reason to oppose voter I.D. ; it denies one of the opportunity to cheat. Most of these people who are opposed to voter I.D. probably have to show Photo I.D. when cashing their SSI or Welfare checks.

Jim Cyr's picture

Maybe we should listen to the GOP about voter fraud....

Mr. Theriault, were you living in a cave when ACORN was quite a popular subject ?? Certainly was not a GOP experience !!

Jason Theriault's picture

Were you in a cave

Were you in a cave when they proved most of the claims against ACORN were fraudulent and without merit? Or when they showed the video evidence was severely edited and the whole thing was a hack job?

Oh wait, Fox didn't report on that. It had moved on to the next thing to get everyone outraged about.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Define most. If most was 80%,

Define most. If most was 80%, that's still 20% too damn many.

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