Voter Registration Fraud Alleged by Democrats

Democrats complained of Fraudulently registering voters as Republican

San Bernardino County Democrats, who have been working aggressively to register new members accused paid signature gatherers Tuesday of fraudulently registering voters as Republican.

Democrats said they complained Friday to the voter registrar after interviewing 27 people who said their registration was switched to Republican against their will.

Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil said Tuesday she has no evidence of fraud but forwarded the information to the secretary of state and to the San Bernardino County district attorney. Doing so is standard practice, Verjil said, since those agencies investigate voter fraud.

Susan Mickey, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Mike Ramos, said the office still is evaluating the material.

Democrats also sent their complaint to the state attorney general's office, which confirmed Tuesday it had received the letter.

A San Bernardino County Republican Party representative said the signature gatherers were not working for them.

The Democrats' allegations come amid a massive voter-registration drive by San Bernardino County Democrats intent on flipping the county from red to blue. Democrats have been saying they expect to outnumber Republicans by the end of the month and even have an Oct. 11 party scheduled to celebrate.

Earlier this month, they had closed to within 500 voters, with 302,091 Democrats registered in the county compared to 302,556 Republicans, according to the registrar's office.

But in a report issued Monday, the registrar's office put Republicans at 307,132 compared to 303,531 Democrats. That's a 3,600-voter advantage for the GOP.

Voter registration statistics offer donors and political handicappers a way to predict a race's outcome, which is key for Democratic candidates who are trying to get more support for their underdog campaigns in the Republican-ruled Inland area.

When Republicans have the edge, "it makes it harder for Democratic candidates to raise money, and it makes it easier for Republican candidates to raise money," said Carol Robb, chairwoman of the San Bernardino County Democratic Party. "It's all about money."

The voters signed petitions circulated by a firm called Young Political Majors, which gathers signatures under a contract with Arno Political Consultants, Democrats said.

A phone call to Arno's Sacramento office went unanswered, and no one from Young Political Majors could be reached.

Verjil confirmed that voter registration forms were issued to Young Political Majors. She said the firm, as required by the registrar's office, filled out an application, and the company employees attended a class on how to properly fill out the forms and on the rules for voter registration.

Mark Kirk, a Republican Party executive committee member, said Tuesday that unpaid volunteers are leading the party's current voter registration efforts.

Kirk said the local party this year was slow to ramp up voter registration efforts.

But to suggest the latest Republican surge is a result of fraud fails to take into account volunteers' hard work and the excitement about the GOP's presidential ticket, Kirk said.

"We certainly didn't scream and holler when they were making progress," he said.

"More than anything, (Democrats) might have to cancel or postpone their party celebrating the county turning blue," Kirk said.