(WASHINGTON) — A GOP-backed consulting firm may have submitted “hundreds” of faked voter registration forms in Florida, according to the Florida Secretary of State.
The GOP cut ties with the third party voter registering company Strategic Allied Consultants on Thursday after the Palm Beach County elections supervisor flagged 106 of the firm’s registration forms for having similar handwriting, incorrect addresses and incomplete information.
Since then, elections officials in nine Florida counties have unearthed hundreds of possibly fraudulent registration forms.
The firm claims the issue stemmed from one employee, who was fired on Sept. 15, but county election officials claim the fraud was more widespread, stretching across counties that are more than 500 miles apart.
“I don’t subscribe to the theory that this was the action of one single individual who was able to get into more than half a dozen counties from one end of Florida to the other,” said Paul Lux, the Okaloosa County Election Supervisor.
Lux said that out of 2,200 forms that Strategic Allied workers submitted, he and his staff have found about three dozen that appear to be faked. Some have signatures that do not match the names, others are only partially completed and a handful of forms have addresses that do not exist, he said.
“The problem is when you pay someone to do something like this, it kind of lends itself to what do you do to get paid?” Lux said.
The Republican Party of Florida paid Strategic Allied Consultants $1.3 million to register voters starting in July. State party spokesman Brain Burgess said the Republican National Committee asked the state party to hire the consultants and paid for the firm. Before hiring the consulting group, Burgess said Florida Republicans relied solely on volunteers to register voters.
Burgess said the party first learned about the supposed fraud more than one week after the firm fired one of its Palm Beach area workers for allegedly faking the voter forms.
Two days later, the Republican National Committee cut ties with the firm and asked state party officials in four other states to do the same. Strategic Allied Consultants was registering voters on behalf of the RNC in five battleground states: Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada.
North Carolina election authorities have flagged five possibly fraudulent forms that the GOP-backed consultant firm submitted. The state’s chief election official Gary Bartlett said he believes it was an isolated incident because all five came from the same county.
None of the forms Strategic submitted in Colorado or Virginia have been flagged and the Nevada Secretary of State’s office would not confirm or deny whether it was investigating any allegedly fraudulent forms.
But while Florida investigates these supposedly fraudulent registrations, election officials said they are not concerned that poorly filed forms will result in fraudulent ballots.
“I think the likelihood of that is very, very slim,” Lux said. “At the end of the day we aren’t talking about fraudulent people getting on the voter rolls, we are taking about a lot of busy work.”
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