NAPLES, Fla - “Can I update your voter registration file,” said a Florida lawyer outside a Big Lots store in Naples, Fla., on Sunday. The lawyer, a volunteer with Organizing for America, President Obama’s grassroots get-out-the-vote campaign, had just approached an 83-year-old woman who had never been registered to vote in her life.
“I don’t know anything about voting,” the woman, an immigrant from Romania said.
“Are you a citizen of the United States,” the lawyer volunteer asked?
“Yes, I’m a citizen. I just don’t know who is good or who is bad and I don’t want to make a mistake and put a bad person in office.”
After the volunteer checked the woman’s driver’s license to ensure she was a citizen and eligible to vote in Florida elections, she asked the woman if there was anyone who could help her make decisions about politics.
When the woman replied she usually talked things over with her daughter, it was decided that she would register to vote. This lady also filled out an early vote application, so when the ballot comes to her in the mail she can go over it with her daughter without feeling rushed to make a decision in the voting booth.
The lawyer, herself an immigrant from Germany, smiled and said, “This is what it is all about. Voting should be so easy that even an 83-year-old woman who has never registered can do so without any hassle.”
In 2008, President Obama narrowly carried the state of Florida. He knows a victory in Florida will make it hard for Romney to win in November.
So Organizing for America (OFA), flooded the state with certified volunteer voter registrars who between August 2011 and August 2012 added 200,000 names to the voter rolls, according to a grassroots organizer working in South Florida.
There have been no reported cases of voter registration abuse in the voter registration forms submitted by OFA.
The same cannot be said for efforts by the Florida Republican Party, which resorted to a paid consulting firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, to help it register voters for the Republican cause in Florida.
The Strategic Allied Consulting venture in Florida is headed up by Nathan Sproul, a well-known Republican political operative, who worked for Mitt Romney in 2011, when he worked at Lincoln Strategy Firm. This firm helped Romney gain signatures to get on several primary ballots.
This week, the Florida Republican Party fired Strategic Allied Consulting after the Palm County Election Supervisor’s office determined that 108 voter registration applications either had the same signature or lacked complete information.
According to the Associated Press, the Florida Republican Party has paid Strategic Allied Consulting a total of $1.3 million to date.
In a prepared statement, state Republican Party Executive Director Mike Grissom said Strategic Allied Consulting was hired on the recommendation of the Republican National Committee.
The company quickly scurried for cover and explained that all forms can be traced back to a lone employee, whom they declined to name.
Ironically, Republicans undertook an aggressive campaign to make voter registration and voting harder for low-income Americans by instituting voter identification laws throughout the country based upon perceived voter fraud from these demographics.
There have been fewer than 108 reported cases of voter fraud nationwide since 1969, according to MSNBC host Al Sharpton.
Palm County, Fla., has a history of questionable voter activity. It was the ballots in Palm County which resulted in the Supreme Court case that declared George W. Bush the winner of the 2000 presidential election.
The scope of the fraudulent voter registration applications is widen, according to the AP, which reported on Friday that 100 more forms have been called into question in several counties in the panhandle of Florida.
If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.