Search warrant: Canvassers forged signatures, fabricated voter applications

The Indiana Voter Registration Project has been under a state police investigation for months. (WISH photo)
The Indiana Voter Registration Project has been under a state police investigation for months. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Workers for the Indiana Voter Registration Project told state police investigators that they were under pressure to register voters for the 2016 election, which led some of them to admit to forging signatures and fabricating voter registration applications, according to newly released court documents obtained by I-Team 8.

The Indiana Voter Registration Project has been under a state police investigation for months.

A spokesman for the group – along with the group’s Indianapolis attorney – deny that their employees were required to meet daily quotas.

But at least three workers interviewed separately by state police investigators contend they felt pressured to register voters out of fear they would be fired or not retained. The workers were paid between $50 to $75 per five-hour shift, the records state.

“There was pressure on the canvassers to register 10 people per shift and if they failed to reach this number they would not be allowed to work again,” one worker told state police.

That same worker later admitted to fabricating and signing applications for five Indiana voters. State police have not commented publicly on the investigation since a raid on the Indiana Voter Registration Project’s office in early October. At the time, they said they were looking into allegations of problems with voter registration applications and urged voters to check out their registrations.

According to the search warrant affidavit, another employee told state police that she received one hour of training that “was role playing, general discussion, and a handbook. During the briefings she watched a short video about the ACORN organization.” She went to tell investigators that there was a “25 application quota per shift but at least 10 would keep you working.”

She went on to say that her supervisor told her “you don’t hear it from me but make sure that you receive at least 10 registrations in a shift. And he would say ‘by any means necessary’ and then laugh it off…”

Another worker told state police investigators that she failed to meet her quota and was not called back to work. She told investigators that she observed several employees not completing the certified statement of acceptance and giving completed voter applications to other workers who had not reached their quota for the day. She also told police that she witnessed several employees completing voter registration applications by copying from a list of registered voters, the records state.

Bill Buck, a spokesman for Patriot Majority USA – a non-profit parent company of the Indiana Voter Registration Project – said that many of the employees mentioned in the warrant: “were fired, let go, not called back or quit before the State Police became involved in this matter.  In addition, most of the non-verified applications mentioned in the warrants were flagged as incomplete or inaccurate by the Project itself, as part of its quality-control process, in order to ensure that no ineligible individual or application made its way onto the Voter File.”

His statement went on to say: “It is unfortunate that the investigation did not give the Indiana Voter Registration Project the opportunity to explain this process or respond to the charges. If we had that opportunity to explain our quality control, a lot of time and resources could have been saved.”

“Finally, based on the available data provided so far by the Secretary of State’s office, the great majority of applications processed by the Indiana voter Registration Project were, in fact, processed by Clerks and entered into the state’s voter file, precisely because of the Project’s professionalism and quality-control systems.”

The Marion County Clerk told investigators that the project turned in more than 27,000 applications to her office, the court records state.

The search warrant affidavit, unsealed Monday, had been leaked to another news organization last week. That prompted two closed-door hearings in the chambers of a Marion County judge last week between prosecutors and defense attorneys for the Indiana Voter Registration Project.

At the time, Linda Pence, the group’s attorney, denied that there were quotas.

“There’s no quotas. But as you can imagine if somebody goes out and they don’t have any applications they are not doing their work ; so you expect people to come back with some applications. But there are no quotas. This is a respectable organization,” she said.

She went on to say that the group has been the targeted by Republicans.

“This is not voter fraud, this is making stuff up,” she said. Pence has not returned calls seeking comment this week.

Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter has denied that party politics was involved.

The search warrant affidavit concludes by stating that investigators believe that employees with the project broke state law.

No charges have been filed in Marion County, according to a spokeswoman for Marion County prosecutor’s office.

Indiana State Police have said that the investigation began in Hendricks County. The clerk there told I-Team 8 last week that she noticed applications where the signatures didn’t match up and other instances where voters were already registered to vote.