NC GOP fires voter sign-up firm over Florida fraud

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—The North Carolina Republican Party has fired a company paid to register new voters following cases of fraud uncovered in Florida.

North Carolina GOP spokesman Rob Lockwood said Monday the party has terminated its relationship with Strategic Allied Consulting, a private company paid more than $3 million to register voters in several presidential battleground states.

The State Board of Elections is alerting county officials to scrutinize all new voter registrations because of fraud concerns.

The move comes after Florida prosecutors began reviewing more than 100 suspect forms submitted by the company’s employees in several counties.

The issue has become political baggage for Republicans, who have championed new laws requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID to combat voter fraud they claimed had been perpetrated by left-leaning groups.

Florida is the battleground state where past election problems led to the chaotic recount that followed the 2000 presidential election.

The Florida Democratic Party called on the state to “revoke” the ability of state Republicans to continue to register voters while the investigation continues. October 9 is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 presidential election.

“It is clear that the Republican Party of Florida does not have the institutional controls in place to be trusted as a third-party, voter registration organization,” said Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.

The Republican Party of Florida has paid Strategic Allied Consulting more than $1.3 million, and the Republican National Committee used the group for work in Nevada, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia.

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.

The questionable forms tied to the Republican Party have showed up in South Florida, including Miami-Dade, as well as counties in southwest and northeast Florida as well as the Florida Panhandle.

Election officials in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties on Thursday handed over more than 100 suspect forms to local prosecutors. They did so days after officials in Palm Beach County also alerted prosecutors.

Ann Bodenstein, the elections supervisor for Santa Rosa County, said her staff started raising questions after an employee saw a form that changed the home address of a neighbor.

Paul Lux, election supervisor for Okaloosa County, said questionable forms in the Florida Panhandle appear to have all come from Strategic’s effort based at the local Republican Party headquarters. He said his office has turned up dozens of suspect forms.

Lux said there have been forms that listed dead people and were either incomplete or illegible.

Lux, who is a Republican, said he warned local party officials earlier this month when he first learned the company was paying people to register voters.

“I told them ‘This is not going to end well,’” Lux said.

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