Politics

Indiana Police Raid Voter Registration Organization

| by Michael Allen

Indiana State Police officers raided the Indianapolis offices of the largest voter registration operation in the state on Oct. 4, following an announcement by Connie Lawson, the Republican secretary of state, in September that at least 10 forged voter registration applications had been submitted by the operation.

Indiana Voter Registration Project organizers said almost a dozen police officers raided the office, seized several computers, employees' cellphones and papers about the group's get-out-the-vote effort.

Jeff Macey, a lawyer who represents the IVRP, told The Intercept that some IVRP employees said the police would not allow the raid to be filmed or allow workers call for legal help on their cellphones. Macey also alleged he was blocked from going inside the IVRP headquarters by the state police.

Since the state police confiscated numerous pieces of equipment from the IVRP's headquarters, it is unknown if the group will be able to register any more voters before Election Day.

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Lawson warned the state's elections administrators about the IVRP in a letter on Sept. 15, reports The New Republic:

"Unfortunately, it has recently come to my attention that nefarious actors are operating here in Indiana. A group by the name of the Indiana Voter Registration Project has forged voter registrations ... If you receive one of these applications, please contact the Indiana State Police Special Investigations."

Working with Lawson, the Indiana State Police interrogated IVRP workers, and did forensics tests on voter registrations. The police determined that a handful of voter registrations were forged, and then notified several state officials and news media about the alleged shady practices of the IVRP. That was followed by the big police raid on the IVRP office on Oct. 4.

The IVRP has insisted that it has submitted tens of thousands of good registrations, and given the huge amount of paperwork, there will inevitably be some registrations that are not perfect.

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Craig Varoga, who heads the IVRP's parent group Patriot Majority, said voter registration workers are not legally allowed to throw away voter applications, even faulty ones, which have to be submitted to the state to be analyzed.

Varoga said that elections administrators normally work with voter registration groups to fix these types of problems, which doesn't appear to be the case in Indiana.

Dave Bursten, the chief public information officer for the Indiana State Police, told The Intercept:

From what we found in the initial 10 that we looked at, and the reason we’re continuing to look, is that we found instances of totally fictitious information. People that didn’t exist with addresses that didn’t exist. On others, real people have had their registration cards updated with incorrect information, which would potentially disenfranchise them from being able to cast their vote.

Bursten was asked about reports of IVRP employees being stopped from filming the police and prevented from calling their legal counsel.

According to Bursten, the police confiscated the employees' cellphones so that any potential evidence could not be deleted.

This investigation will likely continue after the presidential election.

The Indiana State Police said in a press release on Oct. 4: "An investigation of this nature is complex, time consuming and is expected to continue for several more weeks or months."

Varoga said the Patriot Majority would file a voting rights violation complaint against the State of Indiana with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

"They’re violating all manner of legal standards," Varoga stated. "I have certainly never seen anything like this."

Sources: The Intercept, Indiana State Police, The New Republic / Photo credit: Sarah Ewart/Wikimedia Commons

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