April 8, 2006 - Voter Fraud Charges Probed
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved
Los Angeles Times
April 8, 2006 Saturday
Orange County Edition
SECTION: CALIFORNIA; Metro; Metro Desk; Part B; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 519 words
HEADLINE: Voter Fraud Charges Probed;
State has launched an inquiry into allegations of improper Republican registrations in Orange and Riverside counties.
BYLINE: Ashley Powers and Susannah Rosenblatt, Times Staff Writers
Investigators for California 's attorney general and secretary of state have launched an inquiry into allegations of voter registration fraud in Orange and Riverside counties, state officials said Friday.
The investigation comes a month after the California Republican Party suspended its paid voter registration program, following the discovery by elections officials in Orange and San Bernardino counties of thousands of flawed registration forms submitted by private firms the county parties had hired.
Elections officials turned over those forms to local prosecutors and the secretary of state. The state Democratic Party requested that the attorney general investigate, calling the allegations "even more disturbing than first thought."
A statement released Friday by the California Republican Party said it welcomed the inquiry and that "one instance of voter fraud is one too many and any suggestion of voter fraud must be investigated."
Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties have recently received complaints from residents who said they had been improperly registered as Republicans, elections officials said.
It was unclear Friday whether the allegations in Riverside County stemmed from those complaints. "To my knowledge, we don't have any gross irregularities in our registrations in Riverside County," said county Registrar Barbara Dunmore.
Orange County officials did not return phone calls seeking comment. The San Bernardino County district attorney's office has chosen to head its own investigation, though there appears to be "significant overlap" in the conduct of signature-gatherers in the three counties, said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer.
The state GOP voter registration program paid private contractors $3 for each new registration submitted. It was credited with adding 750,000 Republican registrations to state voter rolls in the last three years.
State Democrats run a similar program, but said they pay only volunteers affiliated with party clubs or committees.
In Orange County, the voter fraud allegations have centered on a subcontractor working for Bader & Associates, a Newport Beach-based signature-collection firm headed by Thomas Bader, who ran voter registration programs for the state Republican Party from 2003 to 2005.
Contractor Christopher Dinoff appears to be connected to the 100 or so cases of alleged improper registration, Orange County election officials have said. Bader also hired John Burkett, who took charge of the San Bernardino County GOP's registration program this year.
Election officials said Burkett had turned in thousands of flawed voter registration forms to the San Bernardino County registrar's office, including 1,800 that lacked driver's license numbers or other forms of required identification.
After the allegations, state Sen. Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey), who is running for secretary of state, last month amended a pending bill so that it would ban so-called "bounty" programs in which political parties pay for each signature or registration collected.
Times staff writer Jean O. Pasco contributed to this report.