Thousands of voters have already cast ballots this fall, and election officials are seeing no issues with voter registration fraud.
A few voters have requested their information be corrected, such as a date of birth or name spelling, but those issues have been few and appear to be due to human error when entering them into the voter registration system, Johnson County Clerk Susie Misiniec said.
All the attention on possible fraud being investigated by the state has helped bring any errors to light, and that is a good thing, she said.
“Because of the hype over this, we are finding those, and that is wonderful,” Misiniec said.
Misiniec also took issue with the recent national discussions over the election being “rigged.” Since becoming clerk, she has learned just how regulated the voter registration and voting systems are, including with the requirement that voters show identification when casting their ballot, Misiniec said.
“There are so many checks and balances,” she said.
After initially warning of potential widespread voting fraud, Indiana’s secretary of state has acknowledged that many of the thousands of altered registration records she flagged might just be residents rushing to correct their names or birth dates ahead of the election.
Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson told The Associated Press she wanted Indiana State Police to investigate to ensure there was no widespread fraud after her office found a heavier than usual number of changes to voter registration records this election cycle.
“It’s very possible that because of heightened activity this year that many of those changes are changes that the individual made,” Lawson said Wednesday. “… That should give Indiana voters the comfort that we are vigilant and we are protecting their rights and the elections here are not rigged.”
State police reassured residents in a statement Wednesday that the database Indiana uses to track voter registration “has not been compromised” but said the records Lawson turned over could serve as evidence of forgery in a separate voter fraud investigation it is pursuing. That investigation spans 56 counties and focuses on Patriot Majority USA, a Washington, D.C.-based voter mobilization group with ties to the Democratic Party that says it’s being targeted for political reasons.
Misiniec turned over some Johnson County registrations that were missing information or had no defined signature, but she said she is not concerned that anyone got into the voter registration system and changed information.
Scrutiny of state voting systems across the U.S. has been heightened ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly said the election could be “rigged.” His running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, hasn’t gone that far but has urged supporters to carefully watch polling stations to guard against irregularities.
“Voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation,” Pence said during a campaign stop this week in Ohio. “So I encourage you, demand that our public officials are upholding the integrity of the vote.”
The secretary of state’s office has refused to reveal how many individual voter registrations it has flagged to state police, saying only that the number is in the thousands. Lawson said her office conducted a review of the state voter database after receiving phone calls from an unspecified number of concerned citizens who were unable to access their online voter information or found inaccuracies in it.
“We stated that there were thousands of changes and we are not going to make any assumptions that they are all legitimate or all fraudulent,” Lawson said.
But other state elections officials said voter registration changes are common.
County clerks around the state, who are responsible for entering voter data in the state’s system, could make a data entry error while processing a crush of registrations. Or someone may be registered as Robert but search for their registration online using the nickname Bob, said Angie Nussmeyer, a codirector of the election division of Lawson’s office.
A public records request filed by the AP shows Nussmeyer’s Republican counterpart in the elections division, Brad King, was looped in on emails from Lawson’s office and state police about the initial investigation in September, as was Pence aide Shelley Triol. Nussmeyer, however, said she was not.
Democrats said this is evidence that the probe is partisan in nature.
Julia Vaughn, policy director for the nonpartisan government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana, said that before Lawson makes allegations of possible fraud her office she “should make sure the voter file records haven’t been altered through software snafus or human errors made by people in county or state agencies.”
“There is almost no history of this kind of fraud here, so her response helps to fuel irrational claims by Donald Trump and others that the election will be stolen through voter fraud,” Vaughn said.
A spokeswoman for the FBI’s office in Indianapolis, Wendy Osborne, said that the agency was aware of the questions raised regarding voter registrations in the state. But speaking Wednesday afternoon, she added that state authorities had not asked for assistance in investigating the matter.
Public documents explain that the FBI can participate in investigations into voter registration fraud, or whenever ballots that list candidates for president or for Congress are an issue. Before elections, FBI offices nationwide also designate agents to serve as liaisons with local law enforcement and state election officials should federal help be needed.