N.C. voter found party affiliation changed

Raleigh News & ObserverOctober 4, 2012 

RALEIGH -- New concerns over voter fraud surfaced on Wednesday.

A Raleigh woman’s party affiliation was changed without her knowledge from independent to Republican after a man who was apparently working with a Wake County GOP voter registration drive filled out a change-of-address form for her last month.

The N.C. Board of Elections is looking into the matter, along with another complaint involving a man registering voters at the same location.

The elections board is also investigating Strategic Allied Consulting, the company the Republican Party in North Carolina and several other states fired last week after it submitted questionable registration forms in Florida. There is no apparent connection between that firm and the incidents in Raleigh.

It’s not clear what the motive in Raleigh might have been, since party registration doesn’t matter in general elections as it does in primary elections. Also, the Wake GOP says it doesn’t pay its volunteers for registering voters, as some organizations do on a per-name basis.

But it does come amid heightened tensions over voter fraud and the national furor over the Republican firm’s registration forms.

“We can’t assess the enthusiastic volunteers as they go out and register voters,” said Luther Snyder, spokesman for the Wake County Republicans. “We can’t police each one of those. You don’t even have to be empowered by the party to go out and register people.”

Several weeks ago, Kelley DeAngelus, an attorney with the Wake County Public Defender’s office, approached a man at a table registering voters outside the courthouse in downtown Raleigh. She had recently moved from Durham to Raleigh, and asked whether he could register her under her new address.

She said he filled out a registration form with her name and address, and had her sign it. She left the party affiliation blank because that wasn’t changing. DeAngelus said she asked him whom he was affiliated with, and he replied the Republican Party, but assured her he could register anyone.

DeAngelus began checking for her new registration on the state Board of Elections website to make sure the paperwork went through and to find out her polling place. On Tuesday night it appeared – listing her as a registered Republican instead of independent.

“I was very upset about it,” DeAngelus said Wednesday. “Knowing this could happen to anyone, even when you’re informed about how to register, is really appalling. I’m glad I caught it and didn’t just show up to vote. I’m glad this wasn’t the primary.”

She complained to the Wake County Board of Elections, which traced her registration to a batch of several hundred forms submitted by the Wake County GOP, according to a chain of emails she provided to The News & Observer. The Wake board notified the state board, where investigator Marshall Tutor informed her someone had reported two weeks ago that a man generally matching that description in front of the courthouse had claimed to be working for the board of elections.

In the emails, Tutor said the state board was investigating Strategic Allied Consulting, and if that led to the identification of the man who registered her, he would be in touch with DeAngelus. He said the man “obviously violated the law” by changing her form after she signed it.

Earlier this week, state elections officials said they had notified local elections boards to scrutinize forms turned in by Strategic Allied Consulting.

The officials couldn’t be reached Wednesday to discuss whether they had found any irregularities.

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