CROWN POINT | Lake County Republican Chairman John Curley wants a federal investigation into hundreds of voter registrations bearing fictitious signatures or the names of dead and underage people.
"Fraudulent applications are the workings of ACORN groups operating from Milwaukee and Chicago who are getting out the vote for Obama. I'm Republican, but I want everyone who should vote to vote. But I want a clean election," Curley said at a Wednesday news conference.
Lake County elections officials acknowledged they have found problems and had to reject a large portion of the 5,000 registration forms turned in recently by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, an activist group that conducted registration drives across the county this summer.
An ACORN spokesperson couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment. Telephones to ACORN offices in Gary, Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee were reported to be disconnected.
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Curley acknowledges the work of the county elections board to weed out obviously invalid applications, but said more may have slipped into the voter rolls so he wants U.S. Attorney David Capp to conduct a criminal investigation.
Elections Board Director Sally LaSota and Ruthann Hoagland, a county elections board technologist overseeing voter registration, said Wednesday it appears some ACORN vote canvassers pulled names and addresses from telephone books and forged their signatures.
Curley said one registration form was filled out in the name and address of Jimmy John's, a Crown Point fast-food outlet. Another registration, dated in August, is in the name of a Gary man who died Nov. 16, 2007, according to his death certificate.
Hoagland said large numbers of voter registration forms bore signatures all in the same apparent handwriting style.
LaSota and Hoagland said they instructed ACORN on how to legally register voters, but apparently the organization's canvassers broke rules to meet ACORN-set voter registration quotas to get paid. They said ACORN organizers promised to fire workers who were cheating.
LaSota said hundreds of legitimate potential voters may be unable to cast a ballot in the Nov. 4 general election because ACORN delivered incomplete registrations just recently to the county. LaSota said her staff won't have enough time to research, complete and enter legitimate voter registrations before the mid-month deadline.