INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana’s Democratic Party lashed out Thursday at Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s handling of allegations of voter registration fraud.
Party officials accused Lawson’s office of rushing to judgment and failing to have the full facts before coming forward with the allegations.
They suggested that Lawson was acting in a politically partisan matter to match the national Republican rhetoric of a possible “rigged” election.
Emily Shrock, director of voter protection for the state Democratic Party, said she believes the “thousands” of inaccurate voter registrations were a result of voters who had in fact changed their own information. Shrock said the registration errors should be something county officials can work out.
Shrock noted that there is intense interest in this year’s hotly contested election, especially in terms of the presidential ticket, and believes that led to a surge in voter registration. While she regarded that as something positive, she suggested that local election officials were struggling to keep up with the added workload, leading to errors in the information database.
Peter Hanscom, coordinated campaign executive, said he was “utterly disappointed” with the way the situation has been handled and accused Lawson of playing “political games.” He called the claims of voter registration fraud misleading and believes Lawson’s handling of the matter is “reckless.”
Hanscom’s concerns boiled down to the way information was released and the lack of specifics regarding the voter registration fraud claims. He made it clear that he was not questioning the Indiana State Police investigation into the matter but rather the way the Secretary of State conducted the matter.
Hanscom and the others said they couldn’t answer for allegations of voter suppression made by Patriot Majority USA, a group that said the registration fraud investigation was essentially an attack on Hoosier voters. The group accused Indiana State Police of intimidation in a radio campaign.
Indiana State Police are investigating allegations of voter fraud in 56 Indiana counties. Superintendent Doug Cox said Wednesday that ISP was making it a priority to ensure “the integrity of the election and that every Hoosier vote counts.”
Lawson said the state’s voter registration database hasn’t been compromised.
Indiana Republican Chairman Jeff Cardwell responded with a statement supporting Lawson. He accused Democrats of engaging in “political games”:
“I want to applaud Secretary Lawson’s efforts to protect the integrity of Hoosier votes. Her constitutional duty is to assure that registered voters can go to the polls on election day and cast their ballot for the candidate of their choosing.
“It is extremely unfortunate that the State Democrat Party is desperately attacking the integrity of Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a Hoosier who has served with distinction as our state’s top election official.
“With a soaring economy and more Hoosiers working than ever before in our state’s history, Democrats know they can’t win on the issues Hoosiers care about, so they have to play political games to try and distract voters from the issues that really matter.
“If the State Democrat Party is so concerned about overheated election rhetoric, they should denounce Patriot Majority USA, a shady liberal dark money group, for their attacks on the Indiana State Police.”
Lawson released a statement defending her actions. She said voters have contacted her office for the last two weeks to express concerns about incorrect voter registration information:
“Voters have been contacting my office for nearly two weeks. They have stated specifically that their date of birth or first name on their voter registration was changed without their knowledge. As Indiana’s Chief Elections Officer, I have a duty to ensure these voters are not disenfranchised because they think they are no longer registered. I let these voters know they are still registered and can still vote on Election Day. Time is of the essence as there are only 19 days until the election.
“With these facts in mind, for anyone to suggest I am playing politics with voter registration is absurd. My top priority is to ensure everyone can cast a vote on Election Day.
“For the record, I have not given the lists my office pulled to anyone in the Election Division, which includes representatives of both parties. The lists were only given to state police. I did this out of my concern for voters and for the integrity of our elections.
“This is an issue that needs to be taken very seriously. Since I have been Secretary of State, there have been two cases of voter fraud in Indiana. Butch Morgan, the St. Joe County Democrat Party Chair was convicted and served time for petition forging. Former Democratic State Representative Mike Marshall was convicted and served time for absentee ballot fraud. I hope we will not have a third conviction, but it is my duty to the voters of Indiana to stay vigilant.”
Voters can check their registration online at indianavoters.com.