ELKHART — The Secretary of State’s office has issued a new voter registration warning, two weeks after the Indiana State Police announced a massive voter registration fraud investigation.
The Secretary of State’s office said in a press release that it has fielded numerous call from voters who have discovered their date of birth or first name on their voter registration is incorrect. The voters then believe they are not registered because they cannot locate their information on indianavoters.com.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson said her office has found thousands of registrations that had birth dates and first names changed and that they were changed on forms filed at Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices or online.
“At this time, my office is not sure why these records were changed, but we have evaluated the Statewide Voter Registration System and have found no indication it has been compromised,” she said in a statement. “We believe this may be a case of voter fraud and have turned our findings over to” the Indiana State Police.
State police are already investigating allegations of voter registration fraud in 56 counties, representing more than half of Indiana’s 92 counties, including Elkhart County. Police began an investigation into voter registration files statewide when a concerned citizen alerted county election officials in an unknown county to dozens of voter application forms with discrepancies that indicated the possibility of fraud and forgery, according to a press release on Wednesday.
Doug Carter, the Indiana State Police superintendent, said in a statement that he expects charges to be filed by multiple county prosecutors in the near future related to the agencies’ fraud investigation. The Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office said they have not been made aware of any criminal behavior in Elkhart County and that they would not be filing charges unless new information was forwarded to them.
“Given the fact that the Statewide Voter Registration System has not been compromised, we believe the reports Secretary Lawson turned over yesterday may serve as evidence of forgery by representatives associated with the Indiana Voter Registration Project, which is a subsidiary organization of a group that calls itself Patriot Majority USA,” Carter said.
As part of the investigation state police executed a search warrant for the business offices of the nonpartisan Indiana Voter Registration Project in Indianapolis. The group is accused of altering already registered voters’ information by changing the voters’ addresses to an address not associated with them without the voters’ knowledge.
Patriot Majority USA has accused the state of trying to suppress the minority vote through this investigation, something Carter disputes vigorously.
“This is completely false and I condemn these attacks on the governor and Indiana State Police in the strongest possible terms. Furthermore, Patriot Majority’s claim that our investigation began at the direction of Governor Pence is false,” he said. “Any suggestion to the contrary is offensive to me personally and the more than 1,000 troopers who serve with integrity and distinction every single day. The leadership of Patriot Majority should be ashamed of itself for suggesting otherwise.”
Chad Clingerman, a member of the Elkhart County Voter Registration/Election Board, said his office has fielded quite a few calls from individuals who say they are unable to find their voter registration through the online system, but that most often it is due to human error when the caller is searching for their registration information.
“Sometimes they won’t use their full name or something was mistyped and we can locate their registration on our end,” he said.
Clingerman said voter registration errors are not uncommon, but generally are pretty rare.
“Voters will often type in their birth dates incorrectly on their registration form — small things like that,” he said.
With the Indiana State Police investigation, Clingerman said Elkhart County officials still have not heard from investigators why the county is involved in the statewide fraud investigation.
The Secretary of State is reassuring voters that if they find mistakes on their voter registration they will still be able to vote. Voters who explore entering different dates of birth may discover their record on indianavoters.com. They would then be able to correct their date of birth.
The correction will not take place until 30 days after the election, but the voter will be able to vote on Election Day or participate in early voting.
Clingerman said he is glad to see more people checking their registration information early so that they avoid issues at the polls. The state recommends voting early to ensure voters do not encounter issues when they go to cast their ballot.
If you have any questions about your voter registration information you can call the Elkhart County Voter Registration Office at 574-535-6775.
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