-By Dan Froomkin
October 25, 2012- Republican officials, who have used hysteria about alleged voter fraud as an excuse to support measures that disproportionately block Democratic voters, are furiously trying to distance themselves from a growing number of GOP voter registration drives that either submitted false applications or threw away authentic ones.
The incidents might have been overlooked if not for the GOP's clamorous campaign to restrict registration drives, purge voter rolls, roll back early voting, and pass voter ID laws that opponents point out have the effect of depressing the vote among minorities, the poor and other generally Democratic constituencies.
The latest drama began to unfold on Oct. 17, when the manager of a Tuesday Morning discount store in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley saw a man throwing a garbage bag into the store's private dumpster. Inside the bag was a file folder containing eight completed Virginia voter registration forms.
The manager described the man to Rockingham County sheriff's deputies, who the following day arrested Colin Small, 23, a voter registration drive contractor for the Virginia GOP — and charged him with eight felonies and five misdemeanors related to the destruction and disclosure of the applications and obstruction of justice.
A few weeks earlier, the GOP had been under fire following reports of suspicious registration applications that had been submitted in 10 Florida counties by a company run by Nathan Sproul, a Republican operative who has long been trailed by allegations of voter fraud. The Republican Party paid Sproul's company, Strategic Allied Consulting, about $3 million this year for registration drives in five swing states: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, and Virginia.
In Palm Beach County, Fla., alone, about 100 questionable voter registrations were flagged, more than half of which involved changing a voter’s party affiliation to Republican or independent. Discrepancies were also found in North Carolina.
And a viral video uploaded to YouTube in late September showed a young woman who worked for Strategic Allied Consulting registering voters in Colorado and admitting that she was only looking for Republicans. "Well, I'm actually trying to register people for a particular party. Because we're out here in support of Romney, actually," the woman said.
Given Sproul's history, it could hardly have come as a surprise to his GOP employers that his canvassers would generate spurious applications.