Sunday, October 24, 2004

GOP Tricksters Con College Students into Registering Republican

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Oct 24, 2004, 06:16

Scores of college students in Pennsylvania and Oregon have had their voting registrations switched by teams of Republican canvassers circulating bogus petitions and, in some cases, partially concealed voter registration forms students were requested to sign.

The canvassers have visited campuses asking students to sign petitions advocating lower auto insurance rates, medical marijuana or stricter rape laws, according to elections officials.

After signing their names, the students were pressured into registering with the Republican Party by being told that their signatures otherwise would be invalid, or they were asked to fill out the signature and address portions of blank voter registration forms as proof of citizenship. In multiple instances, students already registered to vote have had their registrations changed without their consent, elections officials said yesterday.

Petition canvassers in Pennsylvania apparently did not identify themselves, although one told a University of Pittsburgh student that he was being paid by the Republican Party.

In another instance, the head of the Oregon Students Association said a canvasser at Portland State University told him he was with Project America Votes, a Republican-backed registration effort.

Elections officials said the switch in party registration would not affect the students' eligibility to cast ballots for the candidates of their choice on Nov. 2, although it could determine the party primaries in which they could take part in the future. Several said they were mystified why the canvassers would bother to change registrations, although one told a student in Oregon that he was receiving $12 for each new Republican registration.

Students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a branch campus of Montgomery County Community College told officials they were tricked into filling out blank voter registration forms, listing their names and addresses when they signed a petition advocating the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"I'm pretty sure that they weren't students," said Erik Strobl, an IUP student who said he signed the petition. Strobl said the canvasser then asked him to put his signature and address on a voter registration card. Although Strobl had already registered to vote as a Democat, he did so when he was told his signature was needed to verify his status as a voter.

Several days later, Strobl received a mailed notification that his party registration had been switched to Republican.

IUP appeared to have been hardest hit by the scam. County voter registration director Donna Hoover said as many as 400 registration suspect forms have arrived in her office. Most of them, she said, changed the registered party of students who had signed up to vote just days earlier during a registration drive by two other groups, America Coming Together and VIP.

"Most of the students had registered Democrat the day before," Hoover said. "I've talked to the sheriff."

Markings on many of the forms appeared to be in the same handwriting, she said.

"I kind of thought there was something odd. I don't even know which party would have done it," Hoover said. "These people circled the different spots (on the form) for the people to fill in."

© Copyright 2004 by Capitol Hill Blue


Blogger Phil said...

Capitol Hill Blue soooo lacks credibility. You could have gotten the same article on my site from the original article in the UFlBr college paper. Nice blog!

October 27, 2004 at 6:16 PM  

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