INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, alongside Indiana State Police, quickly and adamantly responded Saturday to accusations they were coordinating to suppress black voters ahead of Election Day.
“It’s not accusations,” Captain David Bursten said, chief public information officer for Indiana State Police. “They’re lies.”
The liberal advocacy group Patriot Majority USA started airing radio ads on black-oriented stations and placing ads in black newspapers across the state Saturday, accusing the governor and Republican vice presidential nominee of voter suppression.
“Indiana State Police recently shut down our state’s largest voter registration program,” the radio ad says with sirens in the background. “This police raid was under the leadership of Republican Gov. Mike Pence.”
State police have launched a voter fraud investigation targeting the group’s efforts in 56 counties. Bursten said Saturday the investigation could expand and go well beyond Election Day.
“We have already documented cases of fraud where people’s names have been filled out and their names have been signed, and we’ve contacted them and they said I did not complete this voter application card,” Bursten said.
Earlier this month investigators searched the group’s Indianapolis headquarters.
Patriot Majority USA launched the Indiana Voter Registration Project earlier this year with the goal of registering tens-of-thousands of Hoosiers before this past week’s deadline. The group has said they registered 45,000 people and now claim in the radio ad, “45,000 citizens, almost all African Americans could lose the right to vote.”
But Indiana State Police say of the forms investigators have already reviewed, about 10 percent have shown signs of fraudulent or forged information.
“So using their numbers of 45,000,” Bursten said. “We have the potential of more than 4,500 fraudulent or forged documents.”
Leading up to Indiana’s October 11 voter registration deadline, election officials had urged voters to check their registration information in wake of the investigation.
“These allegations are completely false and beyond absurd,” Matt Lloyd said in a statement Saturday, a spokesperson for Pence.
State Police say the investigation started after an election official in Hendricks County alerted them with questions.
“Gov. Pence had no idea,” Bursten said. “He had not been notified. We don’t seek the governor’s approval to enforce the laws of the state of Indiana.”