Republicans want state to probe voter fraud allegations -- Gazette.Net


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The Republican Caucus of the Maryland House of Delegates has asked Gov. Martin O’Malley, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and the Maryland State Board of Elections to investigate a voting watchdog group’s charges that it found cases of voter fraud.

True the Vote, a Texas-based, tea party-affiliated nonprofit said Monday it found 173 people who voted in voth Maryland and Florida in federal elections, dating to 2006.

According to a True the Vote statement, 18 voters were in Montgomery County. Prince George’s County had 17. Anne Arundel County had the largest number in Maryland, with 33 cases of alleged voter fraud.

Mary Cramer Wagner, the director of the Voter Registration Division of the Maryland State Board of Elections, said that as soon as her office received the list, it forwarded a copy to the Maryland State Prosecutor’s Office.

“I can’t say anything as to whether or not it’s legitimate,” she said.

Margie Roher, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said she could not comment about the specifics of True the Vote’s recent allegations.

“If during the normal process of maintaining the voter files, if we find something that looks like a potential issue, we forward it to the state board of elections and our attorney,” Roher said.

The Republicans’ letter noted the case of Wendy Rosen, a Democratic candidate in the 2012 election for the 1st congressional district, who withdrew after allegations that she voted in Maryland and Florida in 2006 and 2008 elections.

“In an increasingly divisive political environment, the threat voter fraud poses to our democracy should be an area of mutual concern for Democrats and Republicans,” read the letter, signed by Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke (R-Dist. 31) of Pasadena and Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Dist. 7) of Perry Hall. “Citizens must have faith in the integrity of our elections. These cases of fraud cast a shadow on the legitimacy of our electoral process and must not be permitted to continue.”

True the Vote also said it found 11 people who double-voted, or voted in two locations in the same election, in more than one federal election cycle and 12 married couples who double-voted.

True the Vote alleged that it found 127 cases of double voting in Florida and Maryland that matched exactly, basing those allegations on voters’ names, birthdates, and addresses. True the Vote claimed it had found another 46 matches using just names and birthdates.

“Attention must be directed at voting histories derived directly from your state and Maryland’s records,” Catherine Engelbrecht, the organization’s president, said in an email to Linda Lamone, the administrator for the Maryland State Board of Elections.

An official from the State Prosecutor’s Office could not be reached for comment, but the office has told The Gazette previously that it does not talk about investigations while they are underway.

Roher said her office has a staff of five or six people maintaining the rolls of more than 600,000 voters in Montgomery County, she said.

“Montgomery County doesn’t have sufficient staff or funding to have someone look into [fraudulent voters] as their primary responsibility,” she said.

Besides the recent indictment of a Germantown woman charged with fraudulent voting in the 2012 election, she was not aware of any other names forwarded to the state board, she said.

Her office knows about the names True the Vote sent out and is waiting for direction from the state board on how to proceed, she said.

Wagner said this is the first her office has forwarded True the Vote’s allegations of fraud to the state prosecutor.

Names provided by the group were examined at the county level, she said, explaining that names that appeared to be duplicate registrations were shown to be different voters — for example, siblings with similar names.

Wagner said True the Vote uses “unorthodox” methods in its search for fraudulent voters or dead voters who are still on the rolls, she said.

Her office and local election boards can only use information from a person’s family or from the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to verify someone’s death.

“I don’t have the ability to say ‘go on Tributes.com to see who’s deceased,’” she said.

An official in her office audits the work done at the county level, she said.

Wagner said the Electronic Registration Information Center, which the state recently joined, will help the state maintain its rolls more effectively.

The Center is an initiative formed in 2012 in conjuction with the Pew Charitable Trust and among states to share motor vehicle and voter registration information and pertinent information to help states manage their voter rolls. Colorado, Delaware, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Washington are the other states in the Electronic Registration Information Center program, she said.

Another four or five states likely will join later this year, she said.

“The ERIC program is going to go a long way to keep all our voter registration databases up to date,” she said.

sjbsmith@gazette.net