-By Matea Gold, Joseph Tanfani and Melanie Mason
September 28, 2012- WASHINGTON — Florida elections officials said Friday that at least 10 counties have identified suspicious and possibly fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by a firm working for the Republican Party of Florida, which has filed an election fraud complaint with the state Division of Elections against its one-time consultant.
The controversy in Florida — which began with possibly fraudulent forms that first cropped up in Palm Beach County — has engulfed the Republican National Committee, which admitted Thursday that it urged state parties in seven swing states to hire the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting.The RNC paid the company at least $3.1 million — routed through the state parties of Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia — to register voters and run get-out-the-vote operations. Wisconsin and Ohio had not yet paid the firm for get-out-the-vote operations it was contracted to do.
The RNC severed its ties to the firm Thursday after questions arose about the work Strategic Allied did in Palm Beach County, where election officials have turned over to prosecutors 106 voter registration forms submitted by one worker, some of which contained apparent forgeries and other problems.
Now elections officials across Florida are scrutinizing voter registration forms turned in to their counties on behalf of the state Republican Party. The state elections division is also investigating.
Florida GOP officials – who said they hired Strategic Allied at the request of the RNC – alleged in their complaint Thursday that the firm turned in forms with fake signatures and false information, said Chris Cate, spokesman for the Division of Elections, which will turn over its findings to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Vicki Davis, president of the Florida State Assn. of Supervisors of Elections, said Friday that she had heard from elections officials in Lee, Bay, Clay, Santa Rosa, Escambia and Okaloosa counties who had also identified problematic voter registration forms turned in by the Florida GOP. Pasco County officials discovered possibly fraudulent forms during the Republican primary, Davis said.
Cate, the spokesman for the state elections division, said possibly fraudulent forms have also been reported in Miami-Dade and Duval, two of the state’s most populous counties.