INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – A wide-ranging Indiana State Police investigation into fraudulent voter registration came with accusations by the group under investigation.
Patriot Majority USA issued a statement earlier this week claiming Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) – and Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate, is using the Indiana State Police to suppress African-American voters.
“This is not only voter suppression at its worst, it is an insult to all of the honest troopers in the state police, and to law-enforcement officials across the country, who disapprove of wasting precious crime-fighting resources on partisan witch hunts that further harm relations between police officers and minority communities,” said Craig Varoga, President of Patriot Majority USA.
ISP launched an investigation in August after the Hendricks County Clerk received voter application forms that appeared to be fraudulent or forged, according to ISP. State police began an investigation in two counties initially, but over the course of the investigation it expanded to 57 counties.
Patriot Majority USA claimed in a statement that the ISP Superintendent was appointed by Gov. Pence. Doug Carter was sworn into the position in Jan. 2013.
One of the investigators, Sgt. William Vann, was accused by the group of harassing African-American canvassers during a nonpartisan voter drive. Vann is also considering candidacy for Johnson County Sheriff in 2018, but cannot file for the position until next year. An official complaint was filed against Vann to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel by the Indiana Voter Registration Project, the group operating under Patriot Majority USA. ISP said Vann will not be removed from the case because he’s not an active candidate.
Patriot Majority USA also pointed out an investigator, Jeffrey Hearon, is a registered republican and lives in the same town as Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. It’s not clear what connection the group was trying to make.
The group also said ISP Spokesman David Bursten is a registered Republican and Pence supporter. Again, it’s unclear what connection the group is trying to make.
Voting in Indiana is “open” and those who register to vote don’t declare a party allegiance. And during Election Primaries, voters tell poll workers which ballot they prefer to cast, republican or democrat.
The group also noted Lawson’s Voter ID law which they say was a partisan effort to deny, “tens-of-thousands of law-abiding Hoosiers their right to vote.”
Patriot Majority USA said it has formally requested the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division investigate efforts by public officials in the State of Indiana to suppress tens-of-thousands of African-American votes.
Indiana State Police issued a scathing rebuke Saturday of the allegations.
“Every allegation by Patriot Majority USA against the Indiana State Police is completely false. In fact, it is clear from evidence documented to date that we have uncovered intentional acts of fraud by representatives of Patriot Majority USA,” said Captain David Bursten, Indiana State Police Chief Public Information Office. “The Indiana State Police is charged with enforcing the laws of the state of Indiana and we are determined to protect the integrity of the election and every citizen’s right to vote.”
ISP also provided information about the investigation in a statement.
Investigators said possible fraudulent or false information in a combination of made up names and made up addresses – information previously released. State police said the ongoing investigations expansion into 57 counties is because there could be thousand of improper voter registration applications.
Voter registrations believed to be fraudulent have been copied and turned over to ISP. Original voter registrations are kept at their appropriate county office.
The Oct. 4 raid of offices maintained by the “Indiana Voter Registration Project” was also handled in a similar manner. Copies were made of voter registrations at the originals were left at the office.
ISP continues to tell voters in Indiana to double check their registration. Proper verification can be done by visiting indianavoters.in.gov or by calling your local voter registration office. Anyone who believes they might be a victim of fraudulent voter registration should contact the 24-hour ISP Voter Registration Application Fraud tip line at (888) 603-3147.
Matt Lloyd, a spokesman for Gov. Pence issued the following statement Saturday:
“These allegations are completely false and beyond absurd. In fact, the Indiana State Police has uncovered strong evidence of voter fraud by Patriot Majority USA. Among Governor Pence’s top priorities is ensuring the integrity of the election and that every single Hoosier vote counts. He has full confidence in the Indiana State Police investigation to achieve this goal.”
It’s unclear when the ISP will conclude its investigation or how many voter registrations have been found to be fraudulent or contain false information.