Earlier this week I wrote about allegations regarding voter registration fraud schemes in Orange County (CA). There is now word that the state is launching a formal investigation of these allegations, a joint effort of the Secretary of State and Attorney General offices. This joint effort is discussed in a story in this morning’s Los Angeles Times. The allegations revolve around voter registration drives that are using private contractors who are being paid to collect new registrations (which according to this and earlier media reports run as high as $3 for each new registration gathered).
Here’s a press release on the investigation:
ttorney General Lockyer and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson Announce Joint Investigation Into Allegations of Voter Registration Fraud
April 7, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson today announced the formation of a joint investigation into allegations of voter registration irregularities in Riverside and Orange counties. Secretary McPherson had previously opened his own inquiry into the allegations and requested the Attorney General’s assistance.
“The right to free and fair elections is fundamental to our democracy,” Lockyer said. “The allegations of voter fraud not only involve serious crimes, they also strike at the heart of our constitutional form of government. We will aggressively investigate these claims and vigorously prosecute those who broke state laws.”
“Ensuring that eligible voters have the ability to vote is my top priority,” said Secretary McPherson. “This office has zero tolerance for fraud. I will continue to do everything within my power to make sure that the integrity of our democratic process is protected and the rights of our citizens are preserved.”
As the state’s chief elections officer, the Secretary of State is in charge of overseeing the elections process and partnering with local election officials to ensure fair and accurate elections. McPherson’s Elections Fraud Investigation Unit vigorously responds to allegations of voter fraud and recommending for prosecution of those who would corrupt the people’s basic right to a free and fair election.
Under state law and the state Constitution, the Attorney General has concurrent jurisdiction with county district attorneys to enforce criminal laws. The state Elections Code establishes criminal penalties for specified acts of voter registration fraud. Although district attorneys are primarily responsible for investigation criminal wrongdoing within their own county, the Attorney General often will get involved where related acts of criminal conduct allegedly occurred in multiple jurisdictions.
I’ll keep posting updates regarding this investigation as they come in.