Twelve members of a Democrat-aligned group focused on registering black voters in Indiana have been charged with submitting fake or fraudulent voter registration applications ahead of last November's election.
The charged individuals, working for the Indiana Voter Registration Project, created an unknown number of fake registrations as a way to meet quotas, the Associated Press reports. The Voter Registration Project itself also faces charges.
State Police began their investigation last August, when around a dozen registration forms were flagged by a county clerk for "missing or suspicious information." The investigation eventually expanded from Hendricks County to over 56 counties across the state. It found workers had submitted applications on behalf of nonexistent Indianans, doubled applications for already-registered citizens, and submitted at least one application on behalf of a minor, according to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.
There was no evidence of voter suppression or fraud, but the charges instead arose from what Curry called "a very bad, ill-advised business practice" of setting daily quotas for canvassers. According to a search warrant, some workers admitted to falsifying registrations, saying that they would lose their jobs if they failed to register at least ten voters a day.
"By giving someone a financial motive to (meet a quota) is what caused these canvassers to cut corners and do things that not only undermined the goal of having legitimate registered voters but led to a situation where we allege it bled over into criminal conduct," Curry said.
The Indiana Voter Registration Project is overseen by Patriot Majority USA. Last year, Patriot Majority President Craig Varoga claimed that workers were not paid on a quota system, and were instructed that it is illegal to submit false voter registrations.
Patriot Majority USA is tied to the Democratic Party, with connections including former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and former President Bill Clinton.
According to the search warrant, Patriot Majority submitted several hundred false or fraudulent voter applications. It claimed to have collected about 45,000 applications prior to the election. Curry said it was unclear how many bad applications had been submitted, but it was "a relatively small number."
All 12 defendants are charged with one count of procuring or submitting voter registration applications known to be false, fictitious or fraudulent. Eleven face a charge of perjury, while a twelfth, their supervisor, is charged with counterfeiting. If convicted, each faces up to two-and-a-half years in prison.
The Indiana Voter Registration, for its part, faces the same charges as the supervisor. It would need to pay up to $10,000 in fines if convicted.
Patriot Majority has declined any wrongdoing, and declined to give comment to the AP.