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GOP Voter Registration Strategy -- Lying to Potential Voters About 'Taking a Poll' to Screen Out Obama Supporters

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The Reddit user, identified as "Michaelandichael," says he "grew up in a strongly conservative suburb in Minnesota, and in a strongly conservative household."

"Back in high school in the mid 2000s," he writes, "I was approached by our high school student version of Karl Rove to take a job for the GOP to register voters." He explains that he was subsequently interviewed by a woman who worked for the party, in the GOP office in St. Paul. "She would be my 'boss' however she said we would 'officially' work for a company not associated with the GOP or herself."

He says he was told that "we would go door to door and say we were out there for a political survey. If the resident answered favorably, we would ask if they were registered to vote and register them if they weren't."

He declined to take the job, he writes, because it "seemed sketchy" at the time when he was just 17 years old.

Illegal? Or just incredibly unethical?

When we initially reported on the video that went viral out of Colorado Springs just over one week ago, we were told by Richard Coolidge, the Communications Director for CO Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R) that "there is nothing in state law would prevent" a registration worker from specifically screening for Republican-only voters to sign up. He stressed, however, that "once the person starts filling out the application, the registrar is required to submit the form to the county clerk."

Examination of the CO election code seems to, mostly, bear him out, (see section 1-2-506. Prohibitions [PDF]), though part of the code says registration workers may not "display any political preference or party allegiance," which the young lady in the viral video clearly did when she was pressed by the woman taping her to know if she was there supporting Romney. She admitted she was.

In Nevada, where the Strategic Allied registration worker is seen claiming to be "taking a quick poll" in Action News 13's report by Victoria Spilabottee -- which Sproul cited as an example of his employee doing "her job perfectly" -- the law is only slightly clearer.

According to Nevada Revised Statutes 293.5045, "1. A person who works in a voter registration agency shall not: (a) Seek to influence an applicant's political preference or party registration" or "(c) Make any statement or take any action to discourage an applicant from registering to vote." Violation of one of those statutes is a "category E felony", punishable by up to $5,000 and minimum of 1 year and maximum of 4 years in state prison.

Moreover, NRS 293.505 says an "employee of a voter registration agency...shall not...8(b) Refuse to register a person on account of that person's political party affiliation." Neither may they "9(a) Solicit a vote for or against a particular question or candidate." Violation of those statutes also amount to category E felonies.

We haven't combed through the statutes in the other states mentioned yet, but what's remarkable here is that there seems to be no law -- certainly no federal law -- which explicitly disallows screening out supporters of one party by voter registration workers.

If Democrats use a similar tactic to screen out Republicans, we've yet to come across any instances of it. In either case, it's appalling.

While it's one thing to target your registration drives to areas which may be more friendly to your party -- college campuses or African-American communities for Democrats, evangelical communities and gun shows for Republicans -- it seems quite another thing entirely to systematically instruct registration workers to misrepresent themselves and lie about what they are doing, in order to filter out potential supporters of a party other than the one they are working for.

Our investigation to date suggests this practice is not just systematic, but may even be at the core of the registration strategy for the Republican Party and the Romney campaign. While it's only slightly less appalling than destroying Democratic registration forms, or changing voter addresses so that they will be disenfranchised come Election Day, it certainly seems as if it ought to be as illegal as it is clearly unethical and even unAmerican.

If it's not illegal already in every state in the union, it damned well seems that it should be.

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Brad Friedman publishes Bradblog.com

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