Statewide, Republican voter registration in California is in decline. Thirty percent of voters are now listed as Republican as opposed to 32% in 2008. It was awfully suspicious, then, when GOP registrations in Riverside County jumped by 35,000 this year, seemingly giving them an advantage of 51,000 voters over Democrats. It turns out that thousands of Democrats have been re-registered as Republicans without their permission.
A Republican voter outreach program named ‘The Golden State Voter Participation Project’ stationed workers outside of stores and welfare offices to sign people up. Democratic activists are alleging fraud and have given the county registrar of voters 133 affidavits from Democrats, many of whom are Latino or African American, who state that they were wrongly re-registered as Republicans. Many were presented with documents that were misrepresented. One thought he was signing a petition to lower the price of gasoline, another that he was supporting the legalization of marijuana. Some were promised free cigarettes in exchange for signing.
How would such fraud help Republicans? First of all, inflating their numbers gives them a fundraising boost by making their chances of success look greater than they are. Secondly, Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts would be thwarted since the party wouldn’t reach out to people listed as Republican to make sure they made it to the polls.
Candidate Richard Roth, who is running for state Senate against the Republican incumbent, is making the alleged fraud a campaign issue. After all, in an unfortunate development for the GOP, Roth is one of the victims whose registration was changed to Republican. He complains that the drive was manned by paid signature collectors who received $7 for every signature, and that his opponent voted against a measure that would ban ‘bounty hunter’ registrations.
According to California Watch, the bigger picture in the state shows that only one county currently remains a Republican-majority stronghold. Even a conservative, military town like San Diego is now evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. So one has to wonder, didn’t it occur to anyone in the GOP that Dems might notice the strange surge in Riverside County?
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