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election fraud

GOP Voter Drive Accused of Tossing Cards in OR, NV (also PA, WV, MN)

Arizona-based Sproul & Associates is under investigation in Oregon and Nevada over claims that canvassers hired by the company were instructed to register only Republicans and to get rid of registration forms completed by Democrats.

Substitute teacher Adam Banse wanted a summer job with flexible hours, so he signed up to knock on doors in suburban Minneapolis and register people to vote.

He quit after two hours. "They said if you bring back a bunch of Democratic cards, you'll be fired," Banse contends. "At that point, I said, `Whoa. Something's wrong here.'"

In West Virginia, Lisa Bragg said she refused a sorely needed $9-an-hour job to register voters after attending an orientation session conducted by Sproul employees.

Like Banse in Minnesota, she said canvassers were discouraged from registering Democrats and were told to misrepresent themselves as poll takers.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats in the state House of Representatives have asked the attorney general to investigate complaints from former Sproul canvassers who said they had been instructed to not register Democrats. About 40 to 50 also complained they had not been promptly paid.

In Pittsburgh, library patrons protested that Sproul employees were pressuring people to register as Republicans at tables set up outside a Carnegie Library branch.
Oct 23, 7:01 AM EDT

GOP Voter Drive Accused of Tossing Cards

By DEBORAH HASTINGS
AP National Writer

In several battleground states across the country, a consulting firm funded by the Republican National Committee has been accused of deceiving would-be voters and destroying Democratic voter registration cards.

Arizona-based Sproul & Associates is under investigation in Oregon and Nevada over claims that canvassers hired by the company were instructed to register only Republicans and to get rid of registration forms completed by Democrats.

"We treat these complaints very seriously," said Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. The Democratic office-holder said three complaints were filed with election officials throughout the state. He declined to provide details, citing the continuing investigation.

Substitute teacher Adam Banse wanted a summer job with flexible hours, so he signed up to knock on doors in suburban Minneapolis and register people to vote.

He quit after two hours. "They said if you bring back a bunch of Democratic cards, you'll be fired," Banse contends. "At that point, I said, `Whoa. Something's wrong here.'"

Nathan Sproul, a former head of Arizona's Republican Party and the state's Christian Coalition branch, denies any wrongdoing and accuses Democrats of making things up.

"This is all about making accusations," Sproul said Thursday. "They allege fraud where none exists and get the media to cover it."

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Heather Layman responded that her party accepts all voters, and she accused the Democratic Party of operating under this mandate: "If no sign of voter fraud exists, make it up, manipulate the media into covering baseless charges and spread fear."

Sproul declined to name the states in which his company conducted registration drives. His political consulting firm was founded last year and has received nearly $500,000 from the RNC since July, according to federal election records.

Former canvassers such as Banse have come forward in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Oregon in the past two weeks alleging they were told to register only Republicans and to "walk away" from people who said they intended to vote for Democrat John Kerry.

Some said Democratic registration forms had been thrown out or ripped up.

It is illegal to tamper with voter registration cards, which are numbered and issued by local election officials. In some states, including Oregon, such acts are felonies.

Eric Russell of Las Vegas told The Associated Press that he watched a Sproul supervisor tear up eight to 10 registration forms completed by Democrats and managed to grab some of the shredded documents as evidence. State officials are investigating his claim.

Russell said that Voters Outreach of America, the name under which Sproul employees operated in Nevada and other states, owes him hundreds of dollars for registering residents but refuses to pay him.

Sproul called Russell simply a disgruntled employee.

Prompted by Russell's accusations, Clark County Democrats unsuccessfully went to court last week to try to persuade a state judge to reopen voter registration in their county, which encompasses Las Vegas.

In West Virginia, Lisa Bragg said she refused a sorely needed $9-an-hour job to register voters after attending an orientation session conducted by Sproul employees.

Like Banse in Minnesota, she said canvassers were discouraged from registering Democrats and were told to misrepresent themselves as poll takers.

Bragg, who filed a complaint earlier this week with the West Virginia secretary of state's office, said Friday that canvassers were given a script that read at the bottom, "Our goal is to register Republicans."

She called the registration drive dishonest, adding, "I believe everyone has the right to vote. Even though I'm a Democrat, I would have registered Republicans to vote."

In Pennsylvania, Democrats in the state House of Representatives have asked the attorney general to investigate complaints from former Sproul canvassers who said they had been instructed to not register Democrats. About 40 to 50 also complained they had not been promptly paid.

In Pittsburgh, library patrons protested that Sproul employees were pressuring people to register as Republicans at tables set up outside a Carnegie Library branch.

A similar incident was reported in Oregon in September, when the manager of Medford library headquarters refused a Sproul request to register voters after learning the firm was affiliated with Republicans.

homepage: homepage: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/V/VOTER_FRAUD_INVESTIGATION?SITE=PAPIT&TEMPLATE=home.htm
address: address: The Associated Press

Students Have Parties Switched by Bogus Petitions 23.Oct.2004 12:04

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Students have parties switched by bogus petitions

Registration changed to Republican without consent

Friday, October 22, 2004

By Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Scores of college students in Pennsylvania and Oregon have had their voting registrations switched by teams of canvassers circulating bogus petitions and, in some cases, partially concealed voter registration forms students were requested to sign.

The canvassers have visited campuses asking students to sign petitions advocating lower auto insurance rates, medical marijuana or stricter rape laws, according to elections officials.

After signing their names, the students were pressured into registering with the Republican Party by being told that their signatures otherwise would be invalid, or they were asked to fill out the signature and address portions of blank voter registration forms as proof of citizenship. In multiple instances, students already registered to vote have had their registrations changed without their consent, elections officials said yesterday.

Petition canvassers in Pennsylvania apparently did not identify themselves, although one told a University of Pittsburgh student that he was being paid by the Republican Party.

In another instance, the head of the Oregon Students Association said a canvasser at Portland State University told him he was with Project America Votes, a Republican-backed registration effort.

Elections officials yesterday said the switch in party registration would not affect the students' eligibility to cast ballots for the candidates of their choice on Nov. 2, although it could determine the party primaries in which they could take part in the future. Several said they were mystified why the canvassers would bother to change registrations, although one told a student in Oregon that he was receiving $12 for each new Republican registration.

Students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a branch campus of Montgomery County Community College told officials they were tricked into filling out blank voter registration forms, listing their names and addresses when they signed a petition advocating the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"I'm pretty sure that they weren't students," said Erik Strobl, an IUP student who said he signed the petition. Strobl said the canvasser then asked him to put his signature and address on a voter registration card. Although Strobl had already registered to vote as a Democat, he did so when he was told his signature was needed to verify his status as a voter.

Several days later, Strobl received a mailed notification that his party registration had been switched to Republican.

IUP appeared to have been hardest hit by the scam. County voter registration director Donna Hoover said as many as 400 registration suspect forms have arrived in her office. Most of them, she said, changed the registered party of students who had signed up to vote just days earlier during a registration drive by two other groups, America Coming Together and VIP.

"Most of the students had registered Democrat the day before," Hoover said. "I've talked to the sheriff."

Markings on many of the forms appeared to be in the same handwriting, she said.

"I kind of thought there was something odd. I don't even know which party would have done it," Hoover said. "These people circled the different spots [on the form] for the people to fill in."

In Allegheny County, elections director Mark Wolosik referred another case, involving a Squirrel Hill college student, to county detectives. Ruairi McDonnell said his registration was switched from Independent to Republican by someone who circulated a petition to lower auto insurance rates for young drivers on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh last month.

McDonnell said the man instructed him to fill out portions of a voter registration form, although McDonnell told the man he already had registered to vote.

"He then told me I would have to register as a Republican because 'that's how we get our funding.' I said I would not. He kept the form which contained only my name and address and certainly did not indicate I was a Republican," McDonnell said in a letter to the Allegheny County Department of Elections.

Several days later, McDonnell received notice from the elections department that he had changed his registration from Independent to Republican.

In Montgomery, an identical scam took place in September, when students at the Blue Bell campus of Montgomery County Community College were handed the marijuana petition.

"They're just trying to get numbers," said Joseph Passarella, director of elections for Montgomery, who said he has so far received a handful of complaints from students who said their party affiliation had been changed without their consent.

Susan Adams, a spokeswoman for the college, said the petition canvassers did not have permission from the school to work on the campus.

Project America Votes was a name used by canvassers for Sproul & Associates, an Arizona-based consultant under contract with the Republican National Committee.

Nathan Sproul, the firm's owner, yesterday denied that his workers had used petitions to bait students into party switches.

"This is clearly the Democratic plan to make these baseless allegations," said Heather Layman, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. Layman said she was speaking on behalf of Sproul. She said no Sproul workers were involved in such tactics in Oregon or Pennsylvania.

Sproul's role in ostensibly nonpartisan voter registration drives have triggered official investigations in several states, with canvassers alleging they had been told to refuse to register Democrats or to discard Democratic registration forms, leaving voters who thought they had registered off the rolls.

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(Dennis B. Roddy can be reached a  droddy@post-gazette.com or 412 263-1965.)