Jackson County now part of voter registration fraud investigation


Local election officials are advising Jackson County residents to check their voter registration information after investigators announced fraudulent voter applications may have been filed in 56 counties, including Jackson.

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, Indiana Voter Registration Project, filed at least 10 fraudulent voter registrations in Hendricks and Marion counties.

After serving a search warrant at the business Tuesday, detectives announced they were expanding the investigation to include Hancock, Allen, Delaware, Hamilton, Johnson, Lake and Madison counties. On Thursday, that investigation was expanded to 56 counties, including Jackson.

Investigators said they believe the total potentially fraudulent registrations could number in the hundreds, according to an Indiana State Police news release issued Tuesday. The fraudulent registration information includes combinations of correct names with fake addresses, fake names with real addresses and fake birth dates, police said.

The announcement came about an hour after Patriot Majority USA, a group that runs the Indiana Voter Registration Project, said it asked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to look into whether the investigation is an attempt to suppress black votes, according to The Associated Press.

Captain Dave Bursten, state police spokesman, denied any attempt to suppress votes, saying the investigation has followed proper procedures.

Jackson County Clerk Amanda Lowery said the local election office has not been contacted by the state police or notified of any issues by the Indiana Election Division.

“My first knowledge of Jackson County being included in the investigation came when I saw a list posted last night on Facebook,” she said Friday.

Counties have been instructed to send copies of any suspicious voter registration applications to the Indiana State Police for review.

But Lowery said Friday she has not had to do so yet.

Due to the increase in voter registrations this election cycle because of the presidential race, Lowery said her office has been diligent in making sure applications are accurate.

“We make personal contact with potential voters if any information on their application is questionable, such as missing information or addresses we are unable to locate, and work with them to complete the application before processing it,” she said.

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

When checking voter registration online, Lowery said it may not come up if a person has been registered for years.

“That doesn’t mean they’re not registered, just that their birth date needs to be updated,” she said. “When counties converted to the statewide registration system, some longtime registered voters got pulled into the system with a random birth year.”

The month and day will be correct, but the year will be something nonsensical, she added.

“1800 is a popular year that we see often,” she said. “The majority of calls we have received this morning have been because of this, and we just update their birthday year when they call. We also update on Election Day if poll workers notice a crazy birthday.”

Read the full story in Saturday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.

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