Voter registration fraud probe expands to Brown County, 55 others

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Election officials are advising residents to check their voter registration information after state investigators announced fraudulent voter applications may have been filed in as many as 56 counties, including Brown.

The Indiana State Police and the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office launched an investigation in August into allegations an Indianapolis-based voter registration organization, the Indiana Voter Registration Project, filed fraudulent voter application information in Hendricks and Marion counties.

After serving a search warrant at the business Oct. 4, the investigation was expanded to include Hancock, Allen, Delaware, Hamilton, Johnson, Lake and Madison counties, and expanded again Oct. 6 to include more than half of Indiana’s 92 counties.

The fraudulent registration information includes combinations of correct names with fake addresses, fake names with real addresses and fake birthdates, police said.

No arrests have been made, Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said.

Brown County Clerk Brenda Woods said Friday she had not been told why Brown County is on the investigation list.

She said she had not seen anything suspicious on the voter registration applications that had come through her office — but groups such as the Indiana Voter Registration Project aren’t required to give the registrations they gather to the county office, she said. Woods said they could give them to the state office first, and then the state would send them to the county.

Woods said she was not aware of the Indiana Voter Registration Project doing any voter registration drives in Brown County.

The Indiana Voter Registration Project often canvasses Hoosier neighborhoods or visits fairs and festivals to register voters, officials said. The group is accused of altering information for voters who were already registered, according to a news release from the Indiana Secretary of State’s office.

Woods said she has had several voters call her office to verify that all of their registration information is correct.

“Victims of the activities by some agents of the Indiana Voter Registration Project may not discover they have been disenfranchised from voting until they go to vote and realize their voting information has been altered,” state police said in a news release.

Such action may result in the citizen having to cast a provisional ballot, police said.

Provisional ballots are reviewed after an election by a local election board, and may or may not be determined to be valid votes depending on whether the voter’s registration details can be verified.

Investigators made copies of thousands of documents housed at the Indiana Voter Registration Project headquarters in downtown Indianapolis Oct. 4, though all original documents were left to protect the election process, police said. All court documents pertaining to the investigation have been sealed for 30 days.

Perrine said it’s too early to tell the motive behind the alleged filing of fake registration forms, though investigators suspect employees of the Indiana Voter Registration Project might have been trying to meet a quota of applications rather than trying to influence the election.

Local and state election officials are encouraging voters to visit indianavoters.in.gov to verify their information is correct before casting ballots.

The voter registration deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 11. Early voting starts Wednesday, Oct. 12.

If you find inaccurate information included in your registration, call the Brown County clerk’s office at 812-988-5510 and the 24-hour Indiana State Police Voter Registration Application Fraud tip line at 888-603-3147.