TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Florida authorities are reviewing allegations of voter registration fraud leveled against the Florida Democratic Party just days before the deadline to register new voters.
The Florida Department of State on Friday confirmed that it has forwarded complaints about voter registration fraud that have been filed against the Democrats, as well as two other groups _ the Florida New Majority Education Fund and the National Council of La Raza/Democracia USA.
State election officials, as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, provided few details on the complaints, including whether it is limited to just one county or how many voter registration forms are at issue. FDLE will look at the complaints and determine whether a criminal investigation should be launched.
Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington confirmed that a complaint regarding voter registration forms had come from her county, but she refused to answer other questions.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Democratic Party said the party was unaware of any complaints.
“We have no information to suggest that any of our volunteers registered a person known to be ineligible,'' said the spokesman, Brannon Jordan. “Our volunteers go through a rigorous and extensive training process to ensure they comply with all laws when registering voters. We will continue to take every step to abide by every applicable rule and regulation.''
Florida residents who want to vote in the coming presidential election must register by Tuesday.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement earlier this week began a formal criminal investigation into alleged fraud involving a company hired by the state's Republican Party to register voters.
The investigation arose from complaints about suspicious forms submitted in at least 10 counties by Strategic Allied Consulting. The company was paid at least $1.3 million for the work and also was hired by Republicans in other presidential battleground states. The Republican Party of Florida fired the company after learning of the problems, a move that was followed by state Republican parties in North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.
A spokesman for the company said earlier this week that of 50,000 registration cards turned in by people hired by the company, only about 150 have been questioned.
Nathan Sproul, the owner of the company, appeared on Fox News on Friday and blamed the problems on a “handful of people we caught cheating'' that he said were fired. Sproul's comments, however, come two days after The Tampa Bay Times reported that Lee County officials told Strategic Allied about problems with registration forms back in early September _ but that the state Republican Party didn't learn about any problems until a reporter asked about suspicious forms found in Palm Beach County.
In Florida, it is a third-degree felony to “willfully submit'' any false voter registration information, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
In recent years, Florida's Republican-dominated Legislature _ citing suspicious voter registration forms turned in by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN _ has cracked down on groups holding voter registration drives.
*Pictured above is Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington.