Ind. Sec. Of State Says “Not Playing Politics” With Voter Registration Fraud Concerns
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana’s Secretary of State asserts that she is doing her duty by investigating a large number of changes made to Indiana voter registrations.
“Voters have been contacting my office for nearly two weeks. They have stated specifically that their date of birth or first name on their voter registration was changed without their knowledge. As Indiana’s Chief Elections Officer, I have a duty to ensure these voters are not disenfranchised because they think they are no longer registered,” Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Thursday.
Lawson had announced on Tuesday that the registration discrepancies were reported by voters who could not locate their information in the Statewide Voter Registration System through IndianaVoters.com. She said Thursday that time is of the essence because there are only 19 days until Election Day.
Some county election officials in Indiana have downplayed the issue, saying they have not seen evidence of registration fraud. Lawson herself seemed to downplay the seriousness on Wednesday by saying that the thousands of altered registration records she flagged might just be residents rushing to correct their names or birth dates ahead of the election.
But Lawson maintains that she is not playing politics with voter registration, calling any suggestions to that effect “absurd”.
“My top priority is to ensure everyone can cast a vote on Election Day,” she said.
The Indiana Secretary of State also said she has not given the lists her office pulled to anyone in the Election Division, which includes representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties. The lists were only given to Indiana State Police, the agency investigating the potential fraud, Lawson said.
“I did this out of my concern for voters and for the integrity of our elections,” she said.
This is the second voter registration fraud case being investigated by Indiana State Police this election season. Patriot Majority USA is currently under investigation for voter registration fraud in 56 Indiana counties, including Dearborn and Franklin.
The Democratic-aligned group says it is focused on registering black voters because the state had the nation’s lowest overall turnout in the 2014 election. President Craig Varoga said in an interview that the group focused solely on Indiana this year and began registering black voters in May.
“We believe, based on what Connie Lawson said two years ago, that one-in-eight files on the statewide voter file in Indiana may have inaccuracies, and that the statewide voter file, as it exists today, is a flawed piece of information on which to make unsubstantiated assertions,” Varoga said Wednesday in response to an Indiana State Police statement on the investigation.
Indiana has had other voter fraud cases lead to convictions in recent years. The St. Joe County Democrat Party Chair served time for petition forging in 2008. Former Democratic State Representative Mike Marshall was convicted and served time for absentee ballot fraud, also in 2008.
“I hope we will not have a third conviction, but it is my duty to the voters of Indiana to stay vigilant,” Lawson said.
The Indiana Secretary of State’s office says all registered voters will be able to cast their ballot on or before Election Day. Early voting is encouraged in case a person encounters a problem casting a ballot. Voters with questions should call the Hoosier Voter Hotline at 1-866-IN-1-VOTE.