Mass Fraud Fears In US Election
US election officials believe they have uncovered massive attempted voter fraud less than a month before the country goes to the polls to choose its new president.
Eleven separate investigations have now been launched into a voter registration group called the Association of Community Organisations for Reform – or Acorn.
The authorities believe they may have duplicated voter forms, employed convicts to register people and even stolen the names of the American football team the Dallas Cowboys in order to create fake voters.
The suspicions started when authorities in Las Vegas raided the organisation's offices, removing eight computer hard drives and several boxes of documents.
Acorn called the raid "a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than discredit our work".
They suggested the investigations into them were politically motivated.
But the concerns about dodgy election papers started to spread to other states.
Authorities in Indiana said they had concerns about roughly a thousand voters registered by the group there.
And Fox News reporters in the state of Missouri found 10 registration documents with the same name and signature.
Acorn has registered up to 1.3 million voters across the US so far.
They have offices in 41 states and Washington DC and focus on low income, African American and Latino communities.
They claim to be a politically neutral organisation but many commentators describe them as left wing.
And their workers have been found guilty of voter fraud in the past.
Last year five Acorn employees were sent to prison in Washington State after they went into the Seattle public library and used records to create 1,800 fake registration documents.
Before the raid in Las Vegas, lawyers acting for the state authorities tracked down former Acorn workers.
They found the group had employed 59 convicts from Nevada prisons who were supposed to be supervised and banned from using the phone or the internet.
One former prisoner named Jason Anderson described many of them as "lazy crack-heads who were not interested in working and just wanted the money".
He went on to say they were required to sign up 20 people to vote each day – but couldn't meet the quota – so they started to ask people in the street to fill out several applications.
In a bizarre twist to the tale, the lawyer who uncovered the evidence – Colin Haynes - is a British citizen and a former London policeman who worked as a detective for 11 years.
The Nevada Secretary of State’s department confirmed his past, telling Sky News: "Yep he's a Brit, he's one of our best."
In the town of Independence, Missouri, there was more evidence of dodgy election papers.
Fox news correspondent Eric Shawn obtained 10 voter registration papers filled out in the name of one person – Monica Ray.
He said: "She has three birthdays and four social security numbers."
And he warned the investigation would become even more serious, adding: "The voter registration forms here that are suspect, will be going to the FBI by the end of the week."
The concern over possible voter fraud may re-ignite the debate about voters being forced to bring identification to the polls.
Civil liberties groups have claimed in the past that such a rule would disadvantage poor and minority voters.
However, former Missouri Senator John Danforth offered a lighter side to the affair.
He explained that voter fraud had been a problem in his state before – but struggled to keep a straight face when he told how a dog had been signed up to vote in the presidential elections four years ago.
James Cheyne - October 9, 2008 - source SKYNews