Secretary of State Ken Bennett sets the record straight on voter-registration fraud
Office watching issue closely, but confident that Internet rumors are without merit
PHOENIX – Like most Arizonans, Secretary of State Ken Bennett is concerned any time allegations of voter fraud are raised.
So his interest was piqued in recent days when rumors began to circulate in the blogosphere and via e-mail regarding the possibility that a large number of fraudulent voter registrations had been filed by a handful of activist groups, especially in Yuma County. Bennett and his staff conferred with Yuma County Recorder Robyn Stallworth Pouquette, as well as elections officials across Arizona. They ran down the numbers. The simple truth is that state and local inquiries have been unable to verify or substantiate these allegations of systematic or widespread voter-registration fraud.
Statement from Secretary Bennett:
“As Arizona 's chief elections official, I take seriously any allegations of fraud in our election process. As soon as these accusations came to light, we got in contact with elections officials in Yuma County and across Arizona to determine if a fraudulent scheme was afoot. With our initial inquiry complete, I'm happy to report that these latest allegations of rampant registration fraud are without merit.
“Why make our findings public? Because the truth matters. Unfounded rumors and undue allegations only serve to weaken public faith in our elections, which are one of the underpinnings of our representative democracy.
“ Arizona voters can trust that we're watching for instances of fraud in the registration of voters and casting of ballots. As we did earlier this year when allegations were made in the border town of San Luis , our office won't hesitate to launch an investigation and dispatch resources to observe local election activities.
“I remain vigilant on this issue. As further evidence of my personal commitment, our office is working now to appeal Tuesday's destructive ruling by the U.S. 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals that threw out Arizona's proof-of-citizenship requirement for newly-registered voters. We'll appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. It's a ruling that flies in the face of common sense and, if allowed to stand, would make it impossible to be certain that only U.S. citizens are voting in future Arizona elections.
“A reversal of that court decision is the only way to be certain that we don't in the future find that Arizona has become the victim of actual – rather than rumored – voter-registration fraud by activist groups.”
Rumors and Reality
Rumor: Activist groups Mi Familia Vota and One Vote Arizona filed 3,000 voter-registration forms with Yuma County in recent days.
Reality: Arizona's voter-registration deadline for the General Election passed on Oct. 4. Last week, groups like Mi Familia Vota did submit in Yuma County a few thousand applications for the state's Permanent Early Voter List, which qualifies voters to receive an early ballot. About 45% of those requests were rejected, in most cases because the applicant was already on the early-ballot list. No voters will receive more than one ballot. Oct. 22 was the deadline to request an early ballot for the General Election.
Rumor: As much as 65% of the last-minute voter-registration forms submitted by Mi Familia Vota and One Vote Arizona were deemed invalid by Yuma County .
Reality: In the 10 days leading up to the Oct. 4 registration deadline, Yuma County received 822 applications for voter registration. Of those, 84 were rejected.
Rumor: Other counties across Arizona , including Maricopa and Pima, have also been the target in recent weeks of systematic voter-registration fraud by Mi Familia Vota, One Vote Arizona and other groups.
Reality: No elections officials in Arizona 's 15 counties are reporting an inordinate number of invalid registration forms, nor a coordinated attempt to circumvent the state's voter-registration laws.
Between the end of July and Oct. 4, the deadlines to register for the Primary and General Elections, Pima County processed 29,192 valid registration forms. An additional 762 were rejected because they were incomplete or failed to prove citizenship. The bulk of the rejected forms were submitted by University of Arizona students who failed to include all necessary information, including a driver's license number and signature. Mi Familia Vota submitted just over 100 registration forms in Pima County, and a handful was deemed invalid.
During the 10 days leading up to the Oct. 4 deadline, Maricopa County received 6,129 voter-registration forms from Mi Familia Vota and similar groups. Of those forms, 1,417 were rejected.