CHICAGO (WLS) --As the nation gets ready for Election Day, Indiana is under a cloud of suspicion. The ABC7 I-Team has learned that thousands of Indiana's new voter registrations may be fraudulent.
It sounds like a Hoosier hustle, the way Indiana law enforcement describes it. Authorities say political operatives were forging forms, faking signatures and fabricating registrations - just to meet quotas for a few bucks an hour. The result is potentially thousands of phony voters signed up in the state. On the eve of the election, a cloud of doubt hangs over 56 Indiana counties now under investigation for possible election fraud.
In Danville, Indiana, west of Indianapolis, Hendricks County Clerk Debbie Hoskins reported to the state police on August 23 that her office has received several forged voter registration forms. It was the beginning of an investigation that resulted in a search warrant, just unsealed and seen Monday for the first time.
State police searched the headquarters of the Indiana Voter Registration Project, an offshoot of Patriot Majority U.S.A., founded in 2005 by a former Democratic Party strategist. During the raid last month, financial records, personal files and cell phones were seized, with authorities saying: "Numerous employees of The Indiana Voter Registration Project have fabricated and forged multiple voter registrations applications for voters who reside in Lake, Madison, Hamilton, Marion Hendricks, Hancock and Johnson Counties...It appears that the employees of the Indiana Voters Registration Project have demonstrated a pattern and practice of the submission of fraudulent and forged voter registration applications in violation of Indiana Codes."
The motive, employees told police, was to meet a quota of 25 new registrants per day.
"This is going to take a long time to investigate. It's going to take several weeks and will likely take us past the election. What people need to do now is to go online: Indianavoters.in.gov and make sure their voter registration is correct," Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said.
"We're very confident in the integrity of our system here," said Patrick Gabrione, assistant director of Lake County Board of Elections.
Election officials in Lake County, southeast of Chicago, defended their operation even as the I-Team reported Lake County's electronic voting machines are vulnerable, without a full paper backup system and only a paper record of every fifth vote that's cast.
The Patriot Majority, parent group of that voter registration drive, has said it is being targeted by a "partisan agenda" to suppress African-American voters in Indiana. The not-so-subtle message is aimed at Republican vice-presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
The search warrant, initially obtained by ABC-TV affiliate WRTV in Indianapolis, includes the names of those allegedly involved in the fraud. They have not been charged.
Tonight, Indiana State Police officials asked WRTV to not post the complete search warrant and it is said to have been resealed by the court.