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Potential voter registration fraud in Florida: GOP’s own 'ACORN' scandal?

The Republican Party fired a voter registration contractor this week after the firm turned in illegible, incorrect, and falsified voter registration forms to Florida election officials.

By Staff writer / September 29, 2012

A supporter of Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney attends a campaign rally in Sarasota, Florida, September 20, 2012.

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The Republican Party promptly fired a voter registration contractor this week after the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, turned in illegible, incorrect, and falsified voter registration forms to Florida election officials.

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Saying the party has “zero tolerance” for voter fraud, the GOP also filed complaints against the company with the Florida Secretary of State’s office. The company, run by long-time GOP operative Nathan Sproul, says a single employee was responsible for the forged signatures, though the problem, by Friday, had spread to 10 counties.

"This is an issue we take extremely seriously," RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told CBS News. "When allegations were brought to our attention we severed all ties to the firm."

While reasonable, those explanations could have trouble finding traction among the US electorate, which has watched battles erupt in mostly swing states from Florida to Ohio over control of voter rolls, and heated debates about potential disenfranchisement of key Democratic constituencies, poorer, minority, and elderly voters.

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The allegations are particularly poignant in Florida, which decided the presidential race in 2000 after a massive recount was halted by the US Supreme Court in a way that gave the election to the GOP, and where the current Republican state administration has fought with the US Department of Justice over an effort to weed out illegal immigrants from the state’s voter rolls.

Even more to the point of third-party voter registration contractors, the League of Women Voters sued Florida earlier this month after it instituted a new 48-hour deadline for turning in registration forms. The state relented, reinstating a 10-day deadline.

What’s more, the fraudulent registration findings have echoes of the 2008 controversies over the now-disbanded ACORN community activism group, which was accused by Republicans in 2008 of falsifying forms.

Brad Friedman, who runs the electoral watchdog Brad Blog, helped break the story, tying it to other emerging GOP registration controversies in California and Colorado. Other states where Sproul’s firm had been hired to gather registrations have not reported any problems.

“A massive GOP voter registration scheme, which appears to involve the upper-echelons of the national party, [has begun] to emerge,” Mr. Friedman writes.

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