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More problematic GOP voter forms are found in Florida

Election officials report dozens of potentially fraudulent registrations in the state, in a blow to the Republican National Committee's get-out-the-vote operation.

September 28, 2012|By Joseph Tanfani, Matea Gold and Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times

Strategic Allied told Palm Beach County officials that the suspicious forms found there could be traced to one worker, William T. Hazard of Boynton Beach, according to sources familiar with the investigation. Officials identified 106 forms submitted by Hazard. Most of those forms have problems, said Susan Bucher, county elections supervisor.

In a telephone interview Friday, Hazard, 50, denied he had forged any applications and stressed that he never wrote on any of the forms he collected.

"I did nothing wrong," said the former assistant auto parts manager, who lost his post at a Jaguar dealership about a year ago. He said he got the voter registration job after responding to a Craigslist ad placed by a company called PinPoint Staffing seeking people to do "voter surveys." The ad specified that all applicants had to be registered Republicans and active voters.

Although he reported to a PinPoint Staffing office in West Palm Beach, he said, "I thought I was dealing with the Republican Party."

Hazard said he was paid $12 an hour and not compensated for how many forms he turned in, so he said he would have no incentive to forge applications.

He said he was given "zero training." His only instructions were to approach people and ask whom they supported in the presidential election. When people answered with President Obama, he said, he wished them a good day. If someone said Mitt Romney, he asked if they were registered to vote. If not, he handed them forms to fill out, he said.

"I'm expected to register Republicans," said Hazard, who worked for the company from August until about two weeks ago, when he left over a pay dispute.

"I have nothing to hide," he said. "They're just finger-pointing, I'm sure."

Strategic Allied's faulty registrations were snared by legislation aggressively promoted by the firm's client, the Florida GOP, through an election law overhaul championed by Republicans in the state Legislature last year. The law required a unique identification number for every third-party group (including parties and other organizations) that sought to register voters. It was that number that was used to trace the potentially bogus forms to the Republican Party of Florida.

If fraudulent forms were inadvertently processed, they could create obstacles for voters at the polls. Poll workers can challenge voters if their signature is different than that on their registration. Voters can cast a ballot if their address has been changed within the same county, but only once poll workers are able to establish that they are in the correct precinct.

"It's another step the clerk, the poll worker and the voter would have to go through in order to cast a vote," Davis said.

In Palm Beach County, besides the dealership, forms listed voters as living at a gas station on Miami Beach and a seaport administration building, Bucher said.

There have been isolated reports of registration irregularities in other states where Strategic Allied Consulting had been hired.       

In Colorado, an attorney for the firm alerted the secretary of state's office last week that an employee had torn up a completed voter registration form; the elections office sent that report to state prosecutors for investigation.

In Nevada, the secretary of state's office is investigating a complaint from Gina Greisen, a Democrat and animal rights activist. Earlier this month, she said, she witnessed a man tear up a woman's voter registration form that identified her as a Democrat and instruct her to fill out a new form without any party affiliation. Greisen said an employee from the Clark County Department of Elections determined that torn form (which Greisen retrieved from the trash) was registered to Strategic Allied Consulting.

The Nevada secretary of state's office would not confirm or deny that there were ongoing investigations.

Megan O'Matz of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel in Boynton Beach contributed to this report.

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