YPM: the GOP’s Acorn? (but with *actual* fraud…)

Today comes a story out of the Los Angeles Times where it seems that the GOP has a little Voter Registration scandal of their own.

Dozens of newly minted Republican voters say they were duped into joining the party by a GOP contractor with a trail of fraud complaints stretching across the country.

Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed.

Well now, that’s interesting isn’t it?

With all the anger coming from the right about "Voter Registration Fraud" it really comes as little shock to see that they have something similar under their own covers.

In California, signature-gatherers are prohibited by law from misleading voters about what they are signing.

"You can’t lie to someone to procure their signature," said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in election law.

Civil rights activists recently filed a lawsuit in Arizona accusing YPM of deceiving residents to get signatures for a ballot measure that would have prohibited affirmative action by that state. The lawsuit was dropped after supporters of the measure pulled it from the ballot.

In Massachusetts, former YPM worker Angela McElroy testified at a legislative hearing in 2004that she had tricked voters into signing a ballot measure to ban gay marriage. She said she told voters they were signing in favor of a measure to allow alcoholic drinks to be sold in supermarkets.

YPM’s Jacoby said McElroy was on loan to another signature-gathering company at the time the alleged deception took place.

Jose Aguilera, a 48-year-old math teacher from Ventura whose registration was recently changed from Democrat to Republican, said he signed the child-molester petition outside an Albertsons supermarket.

He said he was asked to sign a second document but not told that it would change his registration.

"Somehow the guy pulled out something else and I signed it," he said

In this case instead of signing people up, and getting defrauded by their employees, like acorn, these folks appear to have been  directed to lie about their petitions, and then to trick people into re-registering as Republicans.

Now the lying itself is bad, and even according to the article the re-registering as Republicans is not actually illegal, since voters can still vote for anyone they want. But what I think the article misses is that by taking updated registrations for Democrats, and submitting them, the GOP is creating a situation where there may be two conflicting registrations for these voters. We already know that the biggest issue in voter roll purges is simple clerical errors, handwriting and misspellings.

The GOP has been using these type of errors all over the country to try to clear Democrats off the rolls. With varying degrees of success. But here you see a possible method of creating these errors, to be exploited in a later purge.

That is what is see missed by the LA Times in this story. Another possible way to help with voter purges in the future, aside from the other dirty tricks. If they are doing similar drives in other democratic areas of the country, it could explain the targeting of purges, once they know there are sufficient additional errors.

I hope I’m wrong.

LA Times: Voters say they were duped into registering as Republicans

UPDATE: The head of YPM was just arrested for, guess what, Voter Registration Fraud!

Mark Anthony Jacoby, who owns the firm known as Young Political Majors (YPM), was arrested after allegedly registering himself to vote, once in 2006 and again in 2007, at an address where did not live. An investigation by the Secretary of State’s Election Fraud Investigation Unit revealed that Jacoby twice registered to vote at the address of a childhood home in Los Angeles although he no longer lived there.

The Secretary of State’s fraud unit and the Ontario Police Department arrested Jacoby near an Ontario hotel just before midnight Saturday. An arraignment date has not been scheduled yet.

“Voter registration fraud is a serious issue, which is why I vigorously investigate all allegations of elections fraud,” said Secretary Bowen, California’s chief elections officer. “Where there’s a case to be made, I will forward it to law enforcement for criminal prosecution.”

For his business, Jacoby traveled California and a number of other states collecting petition signatures and registering voters. Under state law, signature-gatherers must sign a declaration stating that they are either registered to vote in California or that they are eligible to do so. Jacoby allegedly registered to vote at his childhood address to meet this legal requirement.

I can’t make this stuff up.