Voter application fraud investigation expands to more Indiana counties

Indiana Voter Registration Project
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - With Election Day a little over a month away, a voter fraud investigation in Indiana is growing - and it's getting complicated.

A group that registers Indiana voters is being investigated for alleged voter registration fraud. That group says they're not the ones doing something wrong, but that the people investigating them are. They've now asked the Department of Justice to look into their claims.

The group in question is Indiana Voter Registration Project. They're part of a larger group that has helped to register voters in 12 different states during the past three elections. but the group says it has never been accused of voter registration fraud before, until they came here.

Two weeks ago, the Indiana State Police announced the investigation, saying they had confirmed several instances where voter registration forms in Marion and Hendricks Counties had wrong information on them, or not enough information. They now think those forms could number in the hundreds.

Tuesday morning, State Police served a warrant and searched the Indiana Voter Registration Project's office on Meridian Street. In a statement, State Police say they are now looking at potential fraud in seven more counties. Now the investigation has expanded to include Allen, Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Lake and Madison Counties.

In one of those - Johnson County - a State Police detective assigned to this case has publicly announced plans to run for sheriff. The Indiana Voter Registration Project claims Indiana State Trooper William Stoney Vann has "deliberately mischaracterized voter registration forms collected by IVRP as inadequate."

Stoney Vann

In an official complaint filed with US Office of Special Counsel, IVRP claims Trooper Vann is trying to prevent voters from registering. Vann has announced he's interested in running for Johnson County Sheriff in 2018 but can not officially file until January next year.

Because he is not an official candidate, Indiana State Police are not removing him from the investigation and say the claims have no merit.

"None whatsoever. It's almost like don't look at the fire that's brewing over here. Look at the smoke we're trying to make you at over here. It's shameful," said ISP Sgt. Dave Bursten.

With one week out for the voter registration deadline, the Indiana Voter Registration Project says 45,000 African-American voters are in jeopardy of not being able to vote because the forms they filled out have come into question because of this investigation. They might not find out until they show up to the polls to vote.

Patriot Majority USA released a second statement specifically about Tuesday's raid, calling it "partisan," and saying it "violated numerous legal standards, and even insinuated it may have been coordinated with Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson.

"The raid by Indiana State Police sought to intimidate the Indiana Voter Registration Project (IVRP) in numerous ways," the statement said. "For example, investigators seized personal cell phones not related to the investigation; prohibited videotaping of investigators' activities in the IVRP's offices; [and] prevented IVRP staff from contacting in-state legal counsel, and then demanded that a state trooper be present if staff members called an attorney, a clear violation of attorney-client privilege."

According to investigators, the false information could be a "combination of made up names and made up addresses, real names with made up or incorrect addresses and false dates of births with real names as well as combinations of all these examples. Victims of the activities by some agents of the Indiana Voter Registration Project may not discover they have been disenfranchised from voting until they go to vote and realize their voting information has been altered. Such action may result in the citizen having to cast a provisional ballot."

A separate complaint was filed last week against Vann alleging he is in violation of Indiana campaign finance laws.

Click here to see if you are properly registered to vote. If you find inaccurate information that indicates you could be a victim, contact your local voter registration office and the 24-hour Indiana State Police Voter Registration Application Fraud tip line of 888-603-3147.

If you are not currently registered, click here to register directly through the Secretary of State's office.