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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "Voter fraud probe could create cynicism" [Updated]

A story today by Maureen Hayden of CNHI gives the best overview I've seen of the Indiana voter registration/voter fraud issues we have all been hearing about for weeks now. Here it is in the Greensburg Daily News and in The Hendricks County Flyer. The story is too long to quote in its entirety, but should be read in full. It begins:

INDIANAPOLIS -- Every election season, Erin Kelley and volunteers with the League of Women Voters get calls from churches and civic groups seeking help signing up voters.

Kelley, state president of the nonpartisan league, said she now worries those calls will stop.

A politically charged investigation into potential voter fraud, targeting an unrelated group, could chill efforts to get more people to perform that most basic act of democracy, she said.

“I don’t think what’s going on now sends a comforting message that you should get involved in voter registration,” Kelley said.

With just two weeks before the election, questions surrounding the case seem unlikely to be resolved soon.

A State Police probe, prompted by a handful of irregular voter registration forms, now involves 56 of 92 counties and 45,000 new voter registrations.

It’s generated accusations of voter suppression of black voters, as well as bitter partisan exchanges during an already contentious campaign season in which the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has separately claimed the election is rigged.

Late last week, State Police Chief Superintendent Doug Carter claimed in a television interview that “voter fraud” is occurring in Indiana, though he refused to offer details. He defended similar claims by his boss, Gov. Mike Pence, who is Trump’s running mate.

And from later in the story:
Individuals conducting voter registration drives are required by law to turn in every voter application, whether correctly completed or not. [Patriot Majority USA spokesman Bill Buck] said canvassers turned in all applications to county clerks and flagged ones they thought may have missing information or be problematic.

“We think by flagging that information, we inadvertently triggered the investigation,” he said.

State Police have been guarded about their review, but Buck said investigators in late summer started questioning canvassers about their procedures. Early this month, troopers raided the Indiana Voter Registration Project’s office in Indianapolis.

Soon after, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Republican ally of Pence, told reporters her office was cooperating. She said the investigation had started when the elected county clerk in Hendricks County reported seeing several questionable forms that had been submitted by the group.

Some other stories worth reading:[Updated at 10:50 am] Here is another recommended, and very long, story, "Indiana: a perfect storm for voter fraud debate," by Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter, Oct. 26, 2016. A few quotes:
(CNN)In the final weeks of the campaign as Donald Trump fuels questions concerning voting irregularities, a case in Indiana -- the home turf of the GOP running mate Mike Pence -- perfectly frames the current debate on voter fraud.
On the one side of the controversy are those who say they are working to protect the integrity of the election. On the other side are their opponents who allege that some of those efforts are really a veiled attempt to restrict the vote.

The issue in Indiana is Patriot Majority USA, a liberal group that runs the Indiana Voter Registration Program, which calls itself the largest voter registration program of African-Americans in the state. It says it submitted some 40,000 registration forms this year — until Republican officials stepped in. * * *

Like others, [Rick] Hasen is taking a wait-and-see approach on the Indiana case until [ISP Superintendent] Carter's investigation is complete.

"It's a puzzling case," said Marjorie Hersey, a professor at Indiana University.

"By law, any groups that register voters are required to turn in all the registrations they receive, to make sure that they don't decide to turn in only the forms of prospective voters who favor their party," she said.

It's not infrequent for a state to receive a number of inaccurate registration forms, Hersey said. She is worried that voters might hear allegations of voter fraud and be under the impression that "the old-time, cigar-chomping city 'bosses' that held power in many cities in the late 1800s and early 1900s are still alive and well."

"Once people get a colorful image in their minds, it's not easy to convince them of the reality of today's elections," she said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 26, 2016 09:38 AM
Posted to Indiana Government