A nationwide voter registration scandal appears to be unfolding before our eyes just weeks prior to the election. This is an issue that has been frequently discussed on this and many other progressive sites, but even the most passionate onlookers are somewhat surprised about the news of the actual RNC + GOP establishment being involved.
In many battleground states stories are breaking about illegal practices in voter registration and many lead back to one man, Nathan Sproul. If the name sounds familiar it is because he has already become a leading figure in voter suppression. He allegedly helped suppress likely democratic votes in the 2004 election. Sproul’s Strategic Allied Consulting was fired by the GOP last week, one day after Lee fang of The Nation reported that the firm had turned in nearly 100 faked voter registration forms in 10 Florida counties.
Since then, the dots have been connected elsewhere.
For already-completed work in California, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada and Virginia, Strategic Allied Consulting has received $3.1 million from the GOP. A few days of investigative reporting have made it clear that this is not the action of a rogue company. This is a coordinated effort by the National GOP and the Romney campaign. As Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times reported, Republicans were so concerned that Sproul’s past violations would come back to haunt him that they requested he create a shell corporation before they paid him:
“But his reputation is such that when Sproul was tapped by the RNC to do field work this year, officials requested that he set up a new firm to avoid being publicly linked to the past allegations.” The shell is called “Strategic Allied Consulting,” but Sproul’s real firm carries the name “Sproul and Associates” and “Lincoln Strategy Group.”
Now reports show that the company is doing business under other names and is heavily involved in a close California State Senate race in which many people have claimed dirty tricks are in play. A brief state-by-state rundown..
The state’s Republican Party has spent $430,840 for voter registration and petition gathering to a company named “Grassroots Outreach LLC” which shares an address with Sproul’s office in Arizona and uses the same tactics that gained him infamy in the 2004 election. In Riverside County, where the hotly contested race between Republican Assemblyman Jeff Miller and Democratic Attorney Richard Roth has seen a supposed 23 percent gain in Republican party affiliation, 133 formal complaints have been filed by residents who claim they were unwillingly converted into members of the Republican party. One can only imagine how many people have actually been subject to this if 133 people have taken formal action. According to Lance Williams at California Watch:
One voter complained that his registration was changed to Republican after he signed what he thought was a petition to legalize marijuana. Another said he was told he was signing a petition to lower the price of gasoline, according to the affidavits.
Others said they were offered free cigarettes or a “job at the polls” if they signed some paperwork.
Also among the Democrats who said they were involuntarily re-registered as Republicans: two aides to retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Roth, a Democrat locked in a tight race with Republican Assemblyman Jeff Miller for a state Senate seat.
Many of the complainants were Latino or African American.
The problem has become so pervasive in California that Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Natomas) has proposed a bill that would end the practice of paying petition gatherers and voter registration workers incentives for higher numbers of completed forms.
In the ultra conservative bastion of Colorado Springs, a woman shopping at the local Safeway noticed that a teenage girl was registering only voters who said they would likely vote for Romney. She then videotaped her own encounter with the girl via her cell phone. The video, below, shows the girl admitting she was only trying to get registrations for one candidate.
From the video:
Teenage Girl: Would you vote for Romney or Obama?
Safeway Shopper: I thought you were registering voters a minute ago.
Teenage Girl: [puzzled] Um … I am.
Safeway Shopper: [suspiciously] All voters?
Teenage Girl: [perkily] Well, I’m actually trying to register people for a particular party. Because, we’re out here in support of Romney, actually.
After the video made its way to YouTube, Denver’s FOX 31 investigated and reported that the girl was employed by Strategic Allied Consulting, the firm owned and operated by Nathan Sproul.
The Colorado GOP has spent $466,643 to the firm for registration drives. Upon release of the report, the firm was dumped by the Colorado GOP.
NEVADA, NORTH CAROLINA and VIRGINIA
In North Carolina, the state’s GOP has severed ties with Strategic Allied Consulting in the wake of the Florida scandal and is alerting county officials to scrutinize all new voter registrations:
North Carolina GOP spokesman Rob Lockwood said Monday the party had terminated its relationship with Virginia-based Strategic Allied Consulting, a private company paid more than $3 million to register voters in at least seven presidential battleground states.
“We take any threat to the voting process very seriously,” Lockwood said.
In Nevada, allegations of voter registration fraud have surfaced that fall along the lines of the national norm. According to Rob Munoz of KSNV My News 3:
In a statement this person gave to the Secretary of State’s Office, they say they witnessed a man registering voters in Henderson and “he told her she needed to fill out another form. And when she marked democrat he told her to rip it up and fill out another form and leave party affiliation blank.”
Our source was later able to fish out the form from the trash and gave us this picture.
In Virginia, the state’s GOP also fired Strategic Allied Consulting in the wake of the Florida scam, releasing the following statement.
“The Republican Party of Virginia takes any threat to the voting process very seriously. Following an alleged incident by an employee of Strategic Allied Consultants, we have terminated our contract with them effective immediately,” Chairman Pat Mullins of the Republican Party of Virginia said in a statement to CBS 6.
Not only Sproul’s group is having a field day with voter fraud. In Indiana, the hypocrisy runs thick as the Secretary of State himself was caught illegally voting in 10 straight elections using the address of his ex-wife.
The story made some news in February, but it is being revisited now leaving many Indianans wondering how to trust a man with an election when he himself has a history of voter fraud:
If there were an election for dogcatcher, and it turned out that one of the leading candidates let his own dogs run wild in his neighborhood, you might think twice about casting a vote for him.
That essentially sums up the controversy surrounding Charlie White, the Republican candidate for secretary of state. White, who hopes to be the state’s next chief elections officer, now acknowledges he continued to serve on the Fishers Town Council for months after moving out of the district he represented. Along the way, he also voted in a primary in a precinct in which he apparently no longer lived.
It’s quite embarrassing.
After all, Democrats argue, how could White be taken seriously as the elections chief if he can’t even follow the law himself?
“It is our clear position that Mr. White has committed voter fraud,” Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said. “He has a lot of explaining to do, and he has serious allegations against him.”
Parker is clearly enjoying the chance to rough up a Republican candidate for statewide office. Still, he’s right.
The scandal is being billed as the GOP’s own version of the ACORN scandal in which voter registration forms were allegedly tampered with throughout the 2008 election cycle. No matter the party involved, there is no room for misdeeds when it comes to election integrity. Sadly, it has become the norm.