http://nwi.com/articles/2008/10/07/news ... 8320af.txt Fraud, discrimination claims roil huge voter registration
BY BILL DOLAN email@example.com
219.662.5328 | Tuesday, October 07, 2008 | No comments posted.
CROWN POINT | New voter registrations closed Monday in Lake County with possible record-breaking numbers and simmering allegations of fraud and racial discrimination.
Elections board Director Sally LaSota said more than 12,000 voter registration forms are waiting to be processed from recent days before the county knows how many potential voters are ready to cast ballots in the Nov. 4 general election.
"It may be a record," she said.
Porter County has processed at least 3,500 voter applications since the spring primary in May, officials there said.
However, the large influx has brought new controversies.LaSota said Monday representatives of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, a grassroots activist group conducting registration drives, dropped off 2,000 new voter applications last week in Lake County.
"About 1,100 are no good," she said.
LaSota said the flawed forms are incomplete or contain unreadable handwriting -- similar to hundreds of other forms ACORN produced prior to this week. She said some ACORN vote canvassers apparently pulled names and addresses from telephone books and forged signatures.
Charles Jackson, communications director for ACORN, said Monday its administrators screened out the 1,100 registration forms in question and warned county officials the documents were suspect. He said ACORN left the final decision to discard the forms to county officials.
He said ACORN has fired and reported to law enforcement any employees suspected of vote fraud.
"We consider it stealing from ACORN," Jackson said.
Lake County Republican Chairman John Curley said Monday the ACORN registration drive is the main reason he opposes the opening of early voting centers in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.
He filed a lawsuit last week in state and federal courts to stop the three branch offices from opening Monday. County officials agreed last week to delay opening the early locations until U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen rules on the matter later this week.
Curley said opening too many early voting locations would strain the county election staff's efforts to stop people from using fraudulent registrations.
Jay Kenworth, a spokesman for the Indiana Republican Party said Monday, "We are obviously deeply disturbed by the news of these fraudulent registrations."
An attorney for the Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, filed papers in federal court alleging Curley's opposition to early voting was an unconstitutional to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters of the county.
Today is the last official day to register in Illinois to vote on Nov. 4. There will be a grace period from Wednesday through Oct. 21 at the Chicago Board of Election office at 69 W. Washington St. in Chicago. Ballots can be cast at the same time. If you live in Chicago, check your registration status at http://chicagoelections.com
. If you live in suburban Cook or Will counties, find links to those sites on the chicagoelections home page.