By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
In the mother of all ironies, the Florida Republican Party is embroiled in a voter fraud scandal, putting hundreds of voter registration forms in about 10 counties in question.
Apparently, a GOP-back political consulting group submitted fraudulent voter registration forms all over the state. The group, Strategic Allied Consultants, claimed the problem stemmed from one individual who was fired last month.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that this individual, Nathan Sproul, “worked for a string of Republican presidential campaigns, including Mitt Romney … [and] he was recommended to the Florida GOP by the National Republican Committee.”
“Until being fired Tuesday, Sproul’s company had received $1.3 million from Republicans, including nearly $700,000 from the Florida Republican Party,” the Monitor reported.
Right now, it’s unclear how many fake voter registration forms were submitted to election officials, but there are reports that hundreds of them were submitted to the Florida Department of State.
The GOP cut ties with the third party voter registering company Strategic Allied Consultants on Thursday after the Palm Beach County elections supervisor flagged 106 of the firm’s registration forms for having similar handwriting, incorrect addresses and incomplete information.
Since then, elections officials in nine Florida counties have unearthed hundreds of possibly fraudulent registration forms.
Chris Cate, a spokesman for the Florida Department of State, said the state does not yet know the exactly how many forms were allegedly faked. While it is not unusual to get reports of incomplete registration cards, Cate said it is rare for the state to have so many forms with false or wrong information.
This is particularly sour for the GOP, because last year the GOP-led Florida Legislature cracked down on voter registration fraud it said was being committed by groups including ACORN, a left-leaning community group with offices all over the country.
Among the new restrictions created by the GOP’s effort last year, voter registration groups had to register with the state and submit completed voter registration forms within 48 hours. Before the new law, groups had 10 days to turn in the forms. The state law also levied steep penalties if groups violated these rules, prompting the League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote and other organizations to halt voter registrations efforts in Florida.
However, in Florida there were only a couple of dozen cases of actual voter registration fraud reported in the past several years — that is, until now.
A federal court eventually stopped the implementation of the law because it could infringe on the rights of minority voters.
The Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times also reported that Sproul was known for trouble even before this incident. According to the Herald/Times, “employees with his previous firms were accused of a wide assortment of infractions: destroying voter registration forms of Democrats, duping college students into registering as Republicans, refusing to register Democrats or independents.”