Warrant: Indiana workers submitted bogus voter registrations
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Employees of an Indiana voter mobilization group with deep ties to the Democratic Party submitted several hundred voter registrations that included false, incomplete or fraudulent information, according to a search warrant unsealed Monday.
The contents of the warrant, which allowed Indiana State Police to raid the offices of Patriot Majority USA in October, were revealed at the request of the group, which is at the center of an ongoing voter fraud investigation.
It indicates state police contacted a handful of workers who admitted to falsifying registrations. Several said they were under pressure and faced the possibility of losing their temporary job if they did not register at least 10 new voters a day.
Indiana law requires voter registration groups to submit all registrations they collect, even if they know they contain inaccurate information. Patriot Majority, which registered thousands of predominantly black voters before last week’s election, flagged many of the registrations that they believed contained incorrect or incomplete information to elections officials, the warrant states.
It was not immediately known if the fraudulent registrations resulted in illegally cast ballots, but Indiana law requires voters to show a valid state ID before they can cast a ballot. And experts say cases of actual voter fraud are few.
In a statement, Patriot Majority spokesman Bill Buck said the warrant proves the effort was “conducted in a professional manner designed to protect both voting rights and the integrity of the state voter file.”
“The canvassers mentioned in these warrants were fired, let go, not called back or quit before the State Police became involved in this matter,” Buck said in the statement. “As the unsealed documents themselves state, (Patriot Majority) maintained records of unverified and incomplete applications, in order to help the county clerks do their jobs of registering only eligible voters.”
State Police announced Sept. 15 that they had begun investigating in August whether some voter registration applications submitted by Patriot Majority contained elements of fraud, including possible forged signatures. The investigation was later expanded to 56 Indiana counties.
State Police spokesman Capt. Dave Bursten declined to comment Tuesday night, saying the warrant spoke for itself. He said the investigation was ongoing and declined to provide additional information.
Police seized computers and electronic devices during the Oct. 4 raid of the group’s office in Indianapolis.
The warrant states that police tracked down 15 instances where specific employees submitted registrations that included inaccurate birthdates, signatures that did not match those already on record, or incorrect addresses. In some instances, voters told investigators that they were already registered to vote and could not recall being approached by canvassers for the group.
In two cases, police tracked down voters who said they had in fact registered to vote through the group, the warrant states.
A batch of 570 registrations was flagged by the Marion County Voter Registration Office in Indianapolis because they were submitted for people who were too young to vote, contained inaccurate information or were submitted for someone who had no record of living in the state.
The issue became highly politicized in the run-up to last week’s election. Then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, repeatedly raised the possibility of a “rigged” election before they ultimately won and ceased pressing the case.
A spokesman for Pence declined to comment Tuesday night.
Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State, Connie Lawson, further fueled speculation last month, suggesting thousands of voter information changes could be indicative of voter fraud. She later backed off those claims, acknowledging the changes in a database maintained by her office might just be residents rushing to correct their names or birth dates ahead of the election.
Eventually, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, a Democrat, intervened by calling on Indiana public officials, investigators and Patriot Majority to tone down their rhetoric.
Patriot Majority has said the police search effectively shut down their voter registration efforts a week before Indiana’s voter registration deadline after the group had collected about 45,000 voter registration applications.