11 accused of faking voter registration cards in Miami-Dade

(MIAMI HERALD)   Eleven people hired to register potential voters in Miami-Dade County before last year’s presidential election were being sought Wednesday for falsifying hundreds of voter registration cards.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office issued arrest warrants for each of the 11 suspects, all of whom worked for the local chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, (ACORN).

By early Wednesday morning, six were in custody, authorities said.

ACORN came under fire during last year’s presidential campaign when Republicans and other conservative groups accused the national organization of committing fraud in its aggressive voter registration efforts in various cities and counties nationwide, including Florida.

But ACORN officials said they had alerted authorities about the alleged illegal activity among some canvassers in Miami-Dade after finding “numerous discrepancies” on voter cards collected from the Homestead area.

The arrests are “further evidence we’ve been policing our own folks and report people attempting to commit voter registration fraud,” said ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring. “This was really some individuals who were trying to defraud their employer.”

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle praised ACORN.

“We’ve been very aggressive about a lot of these cases,” she said. “But we would not have known about these workers unless ACORN brought it to us.

“It’s really minor, ineffectual attempts to justify getting paid an hourly basis. It could not have impacted the voting process whatsoever. Nonetheless, we cannot turn a blind eye to this,” Rundle added.

ACORN quality control workers found the discrepancies in the cards turned in by 10 canvassers and contacted authorities in June 2008, authorities said. The group turned in 1,400 cards, of which 888 were found to be fraudulent.

An analyst with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement later reviewed a random group of cards, searching databases to find a record of the voter.

The majority of those sampled “contained registrant information that was not able to be matched to a living person,” the warrant said.

The workers, who were paid between $8 and $10 an hour, registered names of nonexistent people — in one case, Paul Newman and James Taylor appeared on cards — or simply filled out several cards for the same real voter, authorities said.

Those arrested are charged with several counts of false swearing in connection with voting or elections and submission of false voter registration information, both third-degree felonies.


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