Registrations in Lake Co., Ind., scrutinized

October 9, 2008 8:37:48 PM PDT
Thousands of voter registration forms in Lake County, Indiana, are being checked for possible fraud.All the forms were submitted by a community group known as ACORN.

Two other states are also checking voter registrations submitted by the same organization.

ACORN's voter registration drive is being scrutinized in three battleground states for the presidential election - Nevada, Missouri, and now, Indiana.

ACORN is a grassroots, community organization that prides itself for helping low-income communities and making sure those citizens have a voice on Election Day.

Lake County elections officials acknowledge that ACORN does have legitimate applicants, but there are some problems.

Young workers sorted through ACORN's voter registration cards. So far, Lake County election officials say more than 2,000 of the 5,000 cards are suspicious.

"You will come across 10 cards in a row with the exact same handwriting, different names, but same handwriting. It's very obvious," said Ruthann Hoagland, Lake County Board of Elections.

Election officials say three dead voters were revived. And there was an applicant named Jimmy John, which ended up being a sandwich shop.

An attorney for ACORN, which closed its Chicago office because of funding problems, says the group is cooperating with Lake County and questions critics who are making this an issue.

"They want to discourage people from showing up at the polls, or they want to discourage people who applied through ACORN for them to think there is something wrong with their cards," the attorney, Brian Mellor, said.

One critic is Lake County's GOP chairman John Curley. He's concerned because Democrats are pushing for early voting, satellite offices in Gary, East Chicago and Hammond. He says fake voters could show up.

"These registrations have not been checked. There's thousands of them. Until they are checked and everyone knows where they are at, these satellites are set up for fraud," said Curley.

Lake County's Democratic chairman and Gary Mayor said he disagrees.

"This is the first time that the Republican Party and the presidential election has ever had a real struggle. They are doing everything and anything to stop this vote from coming in in Lake County," Clay said.

So on Friday morning, it's back to court. A federal judge in Hammond is scheduled to hear the case about the satellite voting offices and whether or not, they'll be put to use in Lake County.


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