PALM BEACH, Fla. (MCT) — Investigations into whether a firm hired by the Republican Party of Florida to register voters handed in forged registration forms spread from Palm Beach County to at least six other counties in the state Friday. In one case, in Santa Rosa County, a form was filled out in the name of a dead person.
While supervisors of elections were handing suspect forms to prosecutors around the state, the Florida GOP announced it would file an elections fraud complaint against the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, a company started by Arizona-based consultant Nathan Sproul.
The firm has been fired, not only by the Republican Party of Florida but also by the Republican National Committee, which hired it to register voters in crucial swing states, including Florida. The state GOP had been paying the firm $1.3 million to register voters and the RNC about $3 million.
The Florida Democratic Party called on the state to "revoke" the ability of state Republicans to register voters while the investigation continues. Oct. 9 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 presidential election.
"It is clear that the Republican Party of Florida does not have the institutional controls in place to be trusted as a third-party, voter registration organization," said Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, who set off the statewide probe this week when she discovered questionable forms coming from the firm Strategic Allied Consulting, said she and her staff would have to review registration forms that had come in earlier in the year to check for additional problems. She said those forms number in the thousands.
In the original batch, Bucher said, she and her staff found forms that featured similar-looking signatures and wrong addresses. News of the allegedly tainted registration forms was first made public by The Palm Beach Post Tuesday, after Bucher turned over 106 suspicious forms to the State Attorney's Office.
By Thursday, Paul Lux, Okaloosa County elections supervisor, had seen The Post's story online and disseminated it to the other 65 county voting supervisors.
Lux had recently sent some registration forms filed with his office to Elections Supervisor Ann Bodenstein in neighboring Santa Rosa because the purported registrants lived in her county.
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"She called me and said, 'You better look at these, because some of them are a little funny,' " Lux said. In fact, one the new voters in Santa Rosa turned out to deceased, Lux said.
Lux began to check and saw that some forms gathered by Strategic Allied Consulting for his county contained clear errors. The last two digits of a person's date of birth are always included in that person's driver license number. But Lux found forms where that wasn't true. Other forms contained addresses that don't exist and others were incomplete.