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Columbia Missourian

Jackson county reports fake voter registration forms

By Emily Coleman
October 11, 2008 | 6:07 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — A group trying to increase voter registration has come into the national spotlight after allegations of fraudulent registration forms have surfaced in multiple states.

The Jackson County Election Board has accused the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, of filing falsified registration forms.

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The election board is reporting 100 duplicate applications and 280 with fake information in Kansas City, Charlene Davis, co-director of the board, told The Associated Press on Friday.

"Due to the diligent efforts of the staff in Jackson County, these applications were identified before they were placed on the voter rolls," Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said in a news release. Carnahan, a Democrat, is running for re-election this year.

A spokesman for the secretary of state's office, Ryan Hobart, said he has told the board to work with the U.S. attorney or a local prosecutor to determine if any laws were violated.

"They (ACORN) are not associated with the state," Hobart said. "They're an independent, nonprofit group. They have no association to our office or the state of Missouri."

Although Hobart said the verification process is working, Republican candidate for secretary of state Mitch Hubbard said, "The system is not working."

Missouri laws allow organizations to use paid employees, instead of volunteers, to register voters.

"They hire people," Davis said of ACORN in an interview with the Missourian. "They pay them. They give them quotas, and the end result is that they complete forms with fictitious names."

Hubbard said if he were elected secretary of state, he would work with the legislature to prohibit organizations from paying workers to register voters to avoid the problems the state has encountered with ACORN.

"It's in the very nature of ACORN," Hubbard said. "They pay people per registration form, so it makes sense people are going to turn in fake applications."

Similar problems have occurred in Boone County in the past with organizations hiring workers to gather signatures on petitions, County Clerk Wendy Noren said. Noren said she once found her father's name on one of the petitions submitted to her office, even though her father has been dead for six years.

ACORN has not been as active in Boone County as it was during the 2004 election season, Noren said.