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The progressive Voter Participation Center produced the video above as a humorous response to right-wing claims that organizations like VPC seek to commit fraud by registering children and even pets to vote. The claim is nonsense, according to the center. Mistakenly addressed voter-registration materials are just that—mistakes, the VPC asserts. The video was produced after complaints arose in June about registration forms being sent to people's cats and dogs.

After an article appeared in Virginia's Richmond Times Dispatch on July 22, Team Romney hopped on the latest iteration of the fraud accusation by sending a letter to state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli seeking an investigation. The A.G.'s office said Wednesday, however, that this is a matter that must start with the Virginia Board of Elections. It now has a copy of the Romney letter.

VPC founder and president Page Gardner has replied that the Romney move “may rise to the level of interference with legitimate voter registration efforts contrary to applicable state and federal laws.”

The Romney campaign’s request for a probe into over 15 thousand returned legal and state-approved registration application forms is part of a blatant and ongoing partisan effort to keep people from voting. We see it everywhere—voter purges in Florida, Texas and Colorado; onerous voter ID laws, which Pennsylvania State GOP House Leader Mike Turzai recently admitted serve no purpose other than to elect Republicans. We will fight these efforts to disenfranchise voters in Virginia and in every other state.
The Times-Dispatch story by reporter Mark Bowes found that Virginians had made hundreds of complaints to the elections board regarding voter registration forms VPC sent to people ineligible to vote—children, non-citizens, felons—as well as to some non-humans. The Washington-based organization sends documents "pre-populated" with essential information, including names and addresses, to prospective voters. Gardner says there are some two million unregistered citizens in Virginia. VPC sends the forms to demographic groups more likely to vote Democratic than Republican: young adults, unmarried women, African-Americans and Latinos. These it labels the "Rising American Electorate":
Hanover Registrar Teresa Smithson said more than 100 third-party registration forms have come into her office since mid-June, with 99 percent of those from the VPC.

"We've got several adamant complaints about it being sent to their home," Smithson said, including one addressed to a resident's grandmother who had been dead since 2006. [...]

"We have a near universal approach to reach as many people as possible to help them register and to help them vote, because the problem is so large in this country," Gardner said. In Virginia, "you have close to 2 million unregistered citizens who could be registered and could vote."

"There may be complaints—we don't like complaints—(but) every single time we do a mailing we make sure we go through protocols to improve our lists," she added. "The number of complaints in terms of scale—versus the number of people we are actually helping to register—I think is" relatively small.

Gardner said the organization had by July 18 registered just over 15,000 Virginia voters out of a mailing of nearly 198,000. She said, "It is misleading for any election official to assert that the forms we send are anything but legitimate."

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said the Virginia Board of Elections must initiate any investigation. A staff member there said it now has a copy of the Romney campaign's letter requesting the matter be looked into.

1:49 PM PT: The Voter Participation Project told reporters in a call today that it would no longer use pre-populated voter registration forms in its mailers.

[VPC's Page] Gardner explained how cats and dogs might have ended up on the mailing lists used by the group.

“If someone signs up their pet to get a magazine subscription, their pet to get whatever they want their pet to get, yes, they can get on a database that is then used to do a mailing,” Gardner said. “We now have a list of hundreds and hundreds of common pet names we exclude from our mailing lists.”

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Daily Kos.

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