Skip to comments.Dems Paid $12,000 to South Dakota Vote Fraud Figure
Posted on 10/18/2002 9:55:47 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
Dems Paid $12,000 to South Dakota Vote Fraud Figure
The South Dakota Democratic Party reportedly paid the person at the center of a growing voter fraud investigation more than $12,000 in the last three months, according to the Rapid City (S.Dak.) Journal which revealed that the figure is shown in Federal Election Commission (FEC) records from July, August and September.
The FEC records revealed that Becky Red Earth-Villeda got 18 paychecks totaling $12,867 allegedly for administrative costs or voter drives. One of the checks in the amount of $3,500 was racked up as travel expenses.
Sarah Feinberg, indented by the Journal as a Democratic Party spokeswoman explained that contractors are paid by the number of voter registration cards and absentee ballots they collect.
State Attorney General Mark Barnett told the Journal he is not prepared to say there are widespread problems with voter registration in and around Indian reservations.
"It is too early to categorize it one way or another. My focus is on one person," Barnett said, referring to Red Earth-Villeda.
Barnett said the state Democratic Party has not been implicated in the suspicious documents, and that party officials have cooperated with the investigation.
The newest development in an expanding voter fraud investigation is only the latest in a the controversy over voter registration and absentee ballots in and around American Indian reservations in South Dakota, the Journal reported.
Sherrill Dryden, county auditor for Fall River County which handles voter registration for adjacent Shannon County, told the Journal that one out of every 10 new voter registrations in that county is being probed.
The incidents come out of an effort to boost voter turnout among South Dakota Indians in for the Nov. 5 election, crucial to Democrats in their effort to hold Senate Control by re-electing Democrat Sen. Tim Johnson now in a tight race with South Dakota Congressman John Thune.
The Journal explained that Shannon County constitutes almost half the area of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. According to Dryden more than 1,000 new registrations have come into her office from the reservation this fall. Some were from new voters and others from people who have not voted for a while and needed their registration updated.
"We had different birthdays and different signatures. Some of the middle initials were wrong," Dryden said. "We just got suspicious when we see a birthday that's a day or two off or a year or two off. It just sent up a red flag."
The state and the FBI have been asked to investigate, she said.
And Shannon County is not the first South Dakota county to report such problems. In other areas of the state, officials say duplication, registering dead people and forging of signatures have been reported.
According to the Journal, about 17,000 new registrations have been reported since the June 4 primary, and the level of absentee voting has exceeded that of a presidential election year.
The state Democratic Party fired Red Earth-Villeda, like Becky Red Earth-Villeda another contract employee, after registration and absentee ballot irregularities surfaced in Dewey and Ziebach counties.
Auditors in Jackson and Corson county also reported similar voter problems Thursday.
Jackson County Auditor Vickie Wilson told the Journal she turned over seven absentee ballot requests to local authorities this week. "I was fairly certain that someone other than the voter could have signed them," Wilson said. She said she also provided the FBI with a total of 20 absentee ballot requests for investigation.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is investigating the case.
Jackson County Sheriff Bruce Madsen told the Journal three people have told him that they did not sign the requests, and two others didn't remember signing them. Madsen said he only found one person so far who had confirmed signing a request.
He added that this is the first time in his 27 years in the sheriff's office that he has had to investigate suspicious voter signatures. "It sure is going to throw some doubt into the election," Madsen said.
Wilson said she had also received several incomplete registration cards in the past few months, but she did not consider them suspicious.
Corson County Auditor Dorothy Schuh told the Journal she had turned over a half dozen voter registrations and absentee ballot requests to authorities for investigation. The FBI and the South Dakota Attorney General's Office are looking into those requests. This is Schuh's first year as auditor, but she had been in the office for five years and hadn't experienced any suspicious voter documents prior to this year.
In a separate Indian voter program in Pennington County, two brothers are being investigated for forging signatures on voter registration documents. Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson said authorities are looking into possible inaccuracies in 230 voter registration cards turned in there.
So far, four cards have been found with inaccuracies, Pennington County Sheriff Don Holloway said.
Investigators should be going over the roles with a fine-tooth comb to eliminate them.