Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ineligible Voters Go Unchecked in PA?

Sad situation. 4,000 plus voter registrations may be bogus, in one county.

Part of the problem at the local level, election registration commission (made up of county commissioners) do not do their own duty to ensure an accurate voter registry by means enabled to do so, locally. Even after a check of voter residency may reveal eligibility, if a formal voter registration card is not mailed out in the first place, there is nothing to either be returned to confirm the address and name, or to be rejected as not at this address.

It is unacceptable for election officials to hand out at the election bureau 'new' applicants a voter registration card.

That's where another potential for abuse remains.

At least by being forced to mail out the voter registration card, there would be a record of whether or not the card was accepted at the mailing address and returned to confirm the residency status, or whether the mailing is undeliverable.

Concerned citizens would then have an opportunity to file a challenge in the event such 'undeliverables' actually show up at the precinct to vote or vote absentee.

The challenge would then have to be sorted out with full opportunity for the eligible voter to clear things up.

Importantly, with provisional ballots, nobody is turned away from voting at the precinct level.

The eligible voter has the opportunity to make sure eligibility status is verified by calling and determining that status.

Net the Truth Online

Posted on Fri, Oct. 31, 2008

Delaware County rejects 250 voter applications
By Kathleen Brady Shea

Inquirer Staff Writer

Meeting for the first time in at least 15 years, the Delaware County Voter Registration Commission yesterday raised concerns about more than 4,000 voter-registration cards that may have been issued in error and, in another action, rejected 250 voter-registration applications.
Hugh A. Donaghue, the commission's solicitor, said publicity about irregularities in the voter-registration drive of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), an advocacy group for low-income and minority citizens, prompted him to check Delaware County's procedures regarding bulk registrations a couple of weeks ago.

"I was shocked" to learn that election officials were issuing cards even when verification procedures failed, a possible violation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, Donaghue said.

HAVA requires applicants to submit the last four digits of their Social Security number or their driver's license number, which are doublechecked through the respective databases. When the information does not match, a first-class letter is sent to the applicant requesting them to contact the Bureau of Elections, Donaghue said.

If the letters come back with "addressee unknown" or applicants do not respond, cards should not be issued but were - as many as 5,000, he said.

When he questioned Delaware County election officials, Donaghue said they cited an August 2006 "clarification" memo from the Pennsylvania Department of State, which encouraged election officials to "override" the requirement that numbers match, he said.

The memo says that "rejecting voter registration applications solely on" mismatched numbers is not required by HAVA or Pennsylvania law and could serve to disenfranchise eligible voters. Often, when numbers can't be verified, they have just been transposed or misread, the memo said.

The memo recommends that election officials seek counsel from solicitors and the Voter Registration Commission.

Rebecca Halton, deputy press secretary for the state department, said yesterday that she had no information that any other county had interpreted the memo the way that Delaware County did.

"The department does not encourage, recommend or condone registering ineligible or unverifiable voter registration applications, by any county, organization or individual," said Halton.
Posted on Fri, Oct. 31, 2008

Delaware County board address state memo that OKs voters without proper verification
Philadelphia Daily News 215-854-5255

The flood of voter-registration applications this year caused a bizarre scene yesterday in the shadows of Delaware County politics.
A Republican lawyer appeared before an obscure three-person county board - it has existed for decades without convening a single meeting - to file a complaint about a controversial legal memo that the board hadn't even known about.

Carmen Belefonte, chairman of the county's bipartisan voter-registration commission - which he said met yesterday for the first time because there was "no need to" in previous years - said that he hadn't known about the August 2006 memo from the Pennsylvania Department of State, which advises counties on handling suspicious applications.

It was a minor issue - until tens of thousands of applications, some of them fraudulent, began streaming in this year.

The state document tells county election officials that even though the Help America Vote Act requires them to cross-reference applications with a database of driver's licenses or Social Security numbers, they don't have to "successfully verify" the information through those databases before issuing a valid voter-identification card.

As a result, about 4,000 questionable applications have been approved since January, even though the applicants' identities were never confirmed, according to Mary Jo Headley, director of Delaware County's Department of Voter Registration.

"That's what the Department of State said to do," Headley said, adding that the information those applicants provided didn't match state or federal databases, nor did they respond to mail from county election officials.

Hugh Donaghue, the Chadds Ford lawyer who brought the memo to the attention of the voter-registration commission yesterday, said that the practice is a recipe for fraud. A person could vote more than once using multiple voter-ID cards, he said.

"It's absolutely insane," said Donaghue, former chairman of the Haverford GOP. "Essentially, the state is perpetrating a fraud, are they not?"

Department of State spokeswoman Rebecca Halton said that the department doesn't condone registering ineligible or unverifiable voters. The memo, she said, was intended to explain to counties that the determination to approve or reject the applications should not be based solely on whether the applicant's information matches driver's-license and Social-Security numbers in the databases.

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