Joint task force probes ACORN voter-fraud

More ACORN stories: here

Labor-backed group has compromised integrity of elections

Nevada state and federal authorities on Thursday announced the formation of a task force that will aggressively pursue allegations of election fraud. The secretary of state, attorney general, U.S. attorney's office and Federal Bureau of Investigation plan to work together as the election approaches and on Election Day to ensure a free and fair election in Nevada, where record turnout is anticipated.

"This is part of an effort to work proactively," Secretary of State Ross Miller, the state's chief elections official, said of the combined effort, which he said would "ensure there is integrity in the system."

Miller said investigators are already looking into allegations of fraud in voter registration, though he declined to go into specifics of an investigation he suggested was being handled by the FBI.

Clark County officials have said they suspect fraud is occurring in the thousands of voter registrations being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which works to get low-income people to vote. ACORN, whose officials have faced fraud charges in other states, says the group's workers are trained to follow the law.

Types of activity investigators would look into include voter registration workers being paid per registration, which is illegal; registrations coming in with duplicates or false names; or registrations being discarded when they belong to a particular political party, Miller said.

During the election, authorities will be on the lookout for bribery, intimidation, interfering with the election process and people voting more than once, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto added.

Election irregularities are a topic commonly raised by constituents she talks to around the state, she said.

In addition to creating connections between agencies to enable them to work together more readily, the Election Integrity Task Force will include a toll-free phone number for reporting potential election violations, specially trained personnel and three command posts located around the state, said Steven Martinez of the FBI in Las Vegas.

Asked whether past elections in Nevada have been tainted by fraud, Miller mentioned allegations in the runup to the 2004 election that a Republican voter-registration drive threw out or tore up Democratic registrations. Those allegations were investigated but didn't lead to criminal prosecutions.

To make sure their registration is in order, Miller said voters should consult the Web site www.silverstate08.com, where his office maintains a searchable voter registration database.


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