Your Voice 2016

voting "rights"

Mike Pence accused of black voter suppression in Indiana

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After the Indiana State Police raided the offices of the Indiana Voter Registration Project (IVRP), Indiana’s largest voter registration operation, earlier this month as part of a particularly fast-moving investigation into voter fraud in the state, the group behind IVRP is accusing Indiana governor Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate, of suppressing the voters of black Hoosiers.

Political advocacy group Patriot Majority USA, which is affiliated with Senate Majority PAC (which supports Democrats in senate races) and is the IVRP’s sponsor, has begun buying radio ads in Indiana, saying that Pence is “leading an attack” against his “own citizens.” Craig Varoga, director of Patriot Majority USA, told the Washington Post that some 45,000 people—most of them black—could be deprived of the chance to vote on election day. IVRP is based in Indianapolis, which is approximately 16 more African-American than the state is.

The State Police’s investigation into voter fraud in the state began in August after the Secretary of State’s office received a notice from elections officials in a suburban Indianapolis county that some voter registration applications seemed faulty. The investigation was expanded from nine of the state’s 92 counties to 56 just after the raid on IVRP’s offices.

Mike Pence has touted the investigation on the campaign trail, saying last week in Iowa that, “In the state of Indiana, we have a pretty vigorous investigation into voter fraud going on right now. And I encourage you here in Iowa, let’s be sure that our state officials are upholding the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ and the best antidote to that is to be involved in the election process. If you are concerned about voter integrity and you haven’t signed up to be a poll watcher, to volunteer at a polling place to be a part of the integrity of that process, then you need to do it.”

The Trump-Pence campaign’s repeated vows to install “poll watchers” at polling places, mostly in Pennsylvania, have similarly worried voting rights groups. Trump has repeatedly made insinuations that the results of the election will be “rigged”—which many of his supporters have taken to heart.

The State Police have said in a statement that they identified ten fraudulent registration applications, which Vargora chalked up to “minor inaccuracies” such as incorrect or missing area codes and ZIP codes. His group has requested the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice look into the case. And, as researchers have repeatedly found, in-person voting fraud does not exist.