Skip to comments.First person charged with voter fraud [in South Dakota]
Posted on 10/18/2002 11:47:13 AM PDT by jpthomas
A KOTA Territory man is the first person to be charged with voter fraud this election.
Police say Lyle Nichols is charged with five counts of forgery of voter registration cards. Nichols is one of two brothers hired by the Native American Voter Registration Project.
They collected and submitted 226 registration cards. The Pennington County Auditor's office found that two of those newly registered voters were dead.
If convicted, Nichols could be sentenced to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each of the five felony counts.
Last week, accusations of voter registration fraud began to surface in several counties. Dead people had been registered, people were registered in counties other than where they live, and names were misspelled, signatures didnt match.
Throughout the state, there are massive voter registration drives being conducted by both political parties, tribal governments and national organizations. Nichols currently is the only person charged.
There is another voter fraud investigation involving a woman paid by the South Dakota Democratic Party to register people. Becky Red-Earth Villeda says she is innocent, that the accusations against her are an attempt to stop the registration of Native Americans. Red-Earth Villeda was fired after discrepancies were found in two applications she collected.
To: Texas Mom This scares me.. When I die, I could end up voting for a deomcrat..Yep ! No kiddin', lol !!
You and I better be careful driving home tonight; we could end up voting for Ron Kirk.
47 posted on 10/18/02 4:26 PM Central by Texas dog
Hey Meek, let's both drive careful, okay? I can't stand Sanchez and Kirk. :)
Sadly, a narrow margin is all they need in too many key races and they are in no way above doing whatever will take them over the top.
(I don't know the stations or their biases, perhaps someone from S.D. can add comments.)
Now also this big news legal action is reported in the Rapid City Journal (and nowhere further yet) as follows captured for posterity:
One arrested for voter fraud
By Jim Holland, Journal Staff Writer
RAPID CITY -- As the Nov. 5 election looms in 17 days, a Rapid City man arrested Friday became the first South Dakotan facing charges in the expanding statewide probe of alleged voter-registration irregularities.
Lyle Duane Nichols, 45, faces five charges of forging voter-registration cards submitted to the Pennington County Auditor's Office through the Sioux Tribes Voter Education and Registration Committee.
The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each felony count. Nichols is in Pennington County Jail pending his court arraignment.
"It appears the vast majority of cards he submitted through this organization were fraudulent," Pennington County Sheriff Don Holloway said. "It looks like what he was doing was picking names out of the phone book or out of the newspaper."
At least two of the registrations were made in the names of dead people, Holloway said.
The sheriff said it appeared that Nichols' motive for falsifying the cards was financial and not an attempt to swing the result of any of this year's tightly contested state election races.
Holloway said the committee paid Nichols $756 for submitting 226 voter-registration cards.
United Sioux Tribes executive director Clarence Skye said Nichols was one of about 24 consultants who were paid a stipend for each registration submitted.
The Pierre-based UST started the Native American Voter Education and Registration Project in late August with the help of a $200,000 grant from the Bauman Foundation in Washington, D.C.
"We're not responsible for that one person," Skye said. "If he wants to do wrong, that's his deal.
"Every one of them are instructed, 'If this isn't right, you're responsible,'" he said.
Holloway said Nichols received $3 for each of the first 20 cards submitted per day and $4 for each additional card submitted that day.
Paying a person to collect voter registrations or ballot petition signatures is not illegal.
Both Holloway and Chief Deputy Attorney General Larry Long said the registration system may need to be revamped in the aftermath of the investigation.
"I think this is an illustration of what happens when you pay people to register voters. It encourages this kind of falsification," Holloway said.
Long said dropping the requirements that voter registrations and absentee ballots be notarized officially also added to the potential for fraud.
"I think that certainly would have deterred this individual," he said.
Long said the state Legislature would have to address changes in voter-registration and absentee-ballot procedures.
"I know that's being discussed," he said.
Skye said project supervisor Mary Janis fired Nichols when problems with registration cards first surfaced at the Pennington County Auditor's Office in September.
Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson said members of her staff noticed errors in birth dates and middle initials listed on two cards allegedly submitted by Nichols. Her staff happened to know two people listed.
Pearson and Holloway said that Skye and Janis have cooperated with the investigation.
"It doesn't appear that they're a part of this at all," Holloway said.
Officials say pushes for registered voters by political parties and other groups have added about 17,000 new voters to the state's rolls.
A contract employee for the state's Democratic Party, Becky Red Earth-Villeda, was fired after problems surfaced with absentee ballots and registrations in Dewey and Ziebach counties. (See related story on Page C5.)
Red Earth-Villeda was paid more than $12,000 in the past three months for administrative, voter-drive payments or travel expenses.
Long said Friday he wasn't aware of any charges filed in that case. She has denied any wrongdoing.
Other voter-registration irregularities are being investigated in Shannon, Fall River, Corson and Jackson Counties.
Long admitted a state and federal investigation of possible voter-registration fraud is expanding, but he declined to discuss details.
"It's more than 10 (counties)," he said Friday. "But I'm not at liberty to discuss it."
Contact reporter Jim Holland at 394-8415, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2002 The Rapid City Journal
Rapid City, SD
... hmmm more than 10 counties, expanding, wow.
Wonder what the "Red Earth" means?
Oh, and they might as well tack on "All the Al Queda sleeper cells discovered to date were registered Democrat."
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