INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A dozen people from an Indiana group promoting voter registration are facing charges Friday for allegedly submitting fraudulent applications.
This happened in the run-up to the November election; the group is called Indiana Voter Registration Project (IVRP).
After a nearly yearlong investigation wrapped up, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said the fraudulent applications were never intended to illegally get more people to the ballot box.
But now 12 people are facing charges including perjury, forgery and submitting fake voter registration applications.
On Friday, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office released more than 150 pages explaining how 12 workers from IVRP allegedly faked some voter registration applications.
The group sent out canvassers to help convince unregistered Indiana residents to sign up before the 2016 election. It’s believed they got 45,000 to sign up, but not all of them were real.
“We have no way of giving a precise number,” said Curry.
Authorities say in one case a canvasser told a 17-year-old to lie about his birthday so he would be eligible to vote. The 17-year-old did.
Another was allegedly not even in Indiana when the group helped her register, and a third apparently had signatures that did not match.
“To protect the integrity of the voter process, we cannot tolerate any situation where individuals intentionally submit registrations that are fictitious or otherwise fraudulent,” said Curry.
Curry said this crime was not meant to, nor did it bring illegal voters to the ballot box. He said the organization threatened to fire employees if they did not get enough residents to register.
Court documents say one canvasser admitted he just wanted to be paid.
“There’s simply no evidence that anyone voted who wasn’t entitled to vote and correspondingly no suggestion that anyone who was legitimately registered was denied their right to vote because of what occurred,” he said. “The irregularities were apparent early enough that it was addressed early on.”
And as we inch closer to a midterm election, Curry has a message to any organization trying to help register voters:
If there are organizations that are going to pay individuals to do that, that they be abundantly certain that they put into place procedures and policies to make certain the registrations being submitted are appropriate and accurate.”
The charges could net these 12 people jail sentences of up to 2-1/2 years. IVRP also faces a charge of knowingly submitting false voter registration — that’d bring with it a $10,000 fine.