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Friday, October 21, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - “In my own state, in my own state of Indiana our State Police just recently uncovered intentional acts of voter fraud,” Pence said

That is from a WTTV 4 story by Jill Glavan.

The ILB last posted about voter fraud claims in Indiana on Oct. 11th, recalling the ACORN controversy in 2008.

This year there seem to be two parallel stories, and MUCH confusion. But the upshot may be just so much sound and fury ...

A voter registration group is signing up prospective new voters around the state, and the Indiana State Police appears to be investigating them ...

At the same time, as John Tuohy wrote in the Indianapolis Star yesterday:

As Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump repeats his message that the general election process is "rigged," the top election official in the home state of his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said she has found thousands more incidents of what she characterized as potential "voter fraud."

Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson said her office has found voter registration forms containing first names and birth dates different from what voters provided. She said she has handed those altered records over to the Indiana State Police for review.

But there is much more in the story, including:
Though Lawson said thousands of tampered forms were discovered, neither office spokeswoman Valerie Warycha nor State Police would reveal precisely how many. Warycha said a number of registration forms each election are changed by voters themselves to provide updated information. In addition, government employees make a certain number of data entry errors. But she said the number of changed registrations this year was much higher than in past elections, which led officials to believe fraud was being committed. * * *

In Hamilton County, Republican elections administrator Kathy Richardson said she had not received any complaints and said she was miffed how Lawson concluded so quickly that the alleged anomalies might be fraud.

"I don't know how you distinguish between people purposely changing their information and those who didn't," Richardson said. "In an election like this, where everyone wants to vote, you are going to get a lot of changes. People change their first names or last names or change their addresses. Especially people who haven't voted in a while.

Then the story touches on the State Police investigation:
State Police also are investigating alleged fraud connected to the voter registration efforts of the group Patriot Majority USA. State Police officers raided the group's offices Oct. 4 and days later alleged fraud in 56 counties.

State Police Capt. Dave Bursten said the latest allegations could be linked to the earlier raid.

"What I can tell you at this moment is the changing of a first name and/or date of birth is consistent with what we are seeing on a number of voter registration applications submitted by PMUSA IVRP," he said in an email.

Craig Varoga, president of Patriot Majority USA, accused Gov. Mike Pence last week of using the State Police to suppress Indiana voters and violate their constitutional rights. And the group recently launched radio ads on black-oriented stations and placed ads in black newspapers across the state Saturday, accusing the governor and Republican vice presidential nominee of voter suppression.

Pence and State Police denied the accusations.

On Tuesday, Varoga said Lawson was trying to blame others for mistakes in her own office.

"In 2014 Connie Lawson was publicly forced to admit that 1 in 8 voters in the Secretary of State's registration lists had inaccurate information," he said in an email. "Instead of fixing the problem, now she is blaming the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, online registration and others for her gross incompetence."

The state allegations of fraud come as Trump has made a "rigged" election a prominent allegation in his recent campaign speeches.

“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media ... but also at many polling places,” Trump tweeted Sunday.

But, the story continues:
Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, said altering thousands of registration forms online and in the county offices would require a small army, he said.

"Coordinated voter fraud would be very complicated and labor intensive," he said. "I don't know how many people have that type of organization. And creating the false registration record is only part of it. Then you would have to get the fake people into the voting places to cast ballots."

A lengthy Oct. 20 story from Brian Slodysko of the AP begins:
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — After initially warning of potential widespread voting fraud, Indiana's secretary of state has acknowledged that many of the thousands of altered registration records she flagged might just be residents rushing to correct their names or birth dates ahead of the election.

Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson told The Associated Press she wanted Indiana State Police to investigate to ensure there was no widespread fraud after her office found a heavier than usual number of changes to voter registration records this election cycle.

"It's very possible that because of heightened activity this year that many of those changes are changes that the individual made," Lawson said Wednesday. "... That should give Indiana voters the comfort that we are vigilant and we are protecting their rights and the elections here are not rigged." * * *

Julia Vaughn, policy director for the nonpartisan government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana, said that before Lawson makes allegations of possible fraud her office "should make sure the voter file records haven't been altered through software snafus or human errors made by people in county or state agencies."

"There is almost no history of this kind of fraud here so her response helps to fuel irrational claims by Donald Trump and others that the election will be stolen through voter fraud," Vaughn said.

Today Zach Osowski and Chelsea Schneider have an Indianapolis Star story headed "Democrats blast Indiana 'voter fraud' talk as partisan." Some quotes:
Indiana Democrats are accusing Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson of playing partisan games and using “inflammatory rhetoric” when she alleged thousands of cases of voter registration discrepancies in Indiana could be voter fraud. * * *

Party spokesman Drew Anderson said with high-profile races in Indiana and with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claiming the national election is rigged, Lawson using a term like “voter fraud” without proof that fraud has actually occurred reeks of partisan politics.

“It should be the duty of our elected officials to calm the waters ahead of what is sure to be a very vigorous election,” Anderson said at a Thursday news conference. “Instead … Lawson rushed to judgment without apparently knowing all the facts or without doing her homework.”

Responding to Democrats, Lawson said voters have contacted her office for nearly two weeks, saying that their birth date or first name was changed on their registration without their knowledge. Lawson has said her office is unsure why the records were changed, but voters needed to be alerted. * * *

Local election officials in the Indianapolis area expressed confidence in the voting process, saying they're not seeing cases in which a voter's information has been altered without that person's knowledge.

What they are seeing is voters not finding themselves when they check their registration in a separate database kept by the secretary of state at the office's website, indianavoters.com. The clerks suspect those cases stem from voters putting incorrect information into the site.

Emily Shrock, the Democratic Party's voter protection director, said the discrepancies highlighted by Lawson could be as simple as a woman getting married and not changing her name on her voter registration. She said for Lawson to throw around words like fraud without having any proof to back that up depresses voter turnout.

Also today Mitch Smith, dateline Hammond, Ind., reports in a long story for the New York Times appears to pinpoint the genesis of the State Police investigation:
Debbie Hoskins, the elected clerk of Hendricks County, said she noticed problems several weeks ago with roughly 10 voter registration forms submitted by the Indiana Voter Registration Project.

Some of the forms were missing information, said Ms. Hoskins, a Republican. In other instances, the signatures on the forms did not seem to match those already in a state database. Ms. Hoskins said her office contacted one registered voter and asked about a form purporting to update some registration information. The voter claimed to have filled out no such form.

“Things didn’t feel right,” said Ms. Hoskins, whose concerns were to the State Police. “Things didn’t look right.”

THE INVESTIGATION The Indiana State Police served a search warrant on Oct. 4 at the Indiana Voter Registration Project office in Indianapolis, in response to a tip in August about voter registration forms being submitted with “missing, incomplete and incorrect information.”

At first the inquiry focused on just two counties, including Hendricks, but within a few days it had expanded to 56 of Indiana’s 92 counties.

Capt. David Bursten, a State Police spokesman, declined to say how many voter registration forms had been called into question. He said the investigation remained active and that no one had yet been arrested.

The NYT story then makes the jump right to the Secretary of State:
This week Connie Lawson, Indiana’s secretary of state, said that “thousands of dates of births and first names were changed” in the voter registration system and that “this may be a case of voter fraud.”

That expanded the investigation by the State Police. In a statement, Captain Bursten said that “the changing of a first name and/or date of birth is consistent with what we are seeing on a number of voter registration applications submitted” by the voter registration project.

THE VOTERS Reports of altered voter profiles created concern among citizens that they might have been unregistered. Ms. Hoskins, the county clerk, said a number of voters had been calling to check whether they were still eligible to vote.

“There are a lot of people that are worried,” she said, adding that in each of those cases, “We haven’t had a problem so far.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 21, 2016 09:06 AM
Posted to Indiana Government