Armed with a tip from the grassroots group ACORN about its own workers, authorities on Wednesday began arresting 11 people suspected of falsifying hundreds of voter applications during a registration drive last year.
The 11 workers each face multiple counts of two felony charges: false swearing in connection with voting and submission of false voter registration information. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison.The FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement had made five arrests by midday and were looking for the remaining suspects. ACORN officials said the group regularly reports suspected fraud to authorities nationwide but the Miami prosecution marks one of the few times the complaints were taken seriously.
ACORN itself last year was the subject of fraudulent registration complaints in Missouri, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina, among others. ACORN first detected problems in Miami-Dade County in June 2008, according to a letter the group wrote to prosecutors. Investigators eventually determined that 11 canvassers, who were paid between $8 and $10 an hour, were turning in fake registration cards, mostly from the Homestead area.
"This is really about money. These are people who decided not to work," said Ed Griffith, spokesman for Miami-Dade State Attorney Katharine Fernandez Rundle.
The 11 workers each face multiple counts of two felony charges: false swearing in connection with voting and submission of false voter registration information. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The suspects collectively turned in about 1,400 registration cards, of which 888 were later found to be faked. Some contained names of celebrities such as actor Paul Newman, while in other cases the same real voter's name was used on multiple applications. There was no evidence anyone voted who should not have.
(SEE FULL STORY MIAMI HERALD)