GOPers rip up Demo registrations

(Oct. 12, 2004) -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps
thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The
company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or
even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration
fraud aimed at Democrats. The focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters
Outreach of America.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed
up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees
of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration
forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up
right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those
from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms,
all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they
had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

So the people on those forms who think they will be able to vote on Election Day are sadly mistaken.
We attempted to speak to Voters Outreach but found that its office has been rented out to someone else.

The landlord says Voters Outreach was evicted for non-payment of rent. Another source said the
company has now moved on to Oregon where it is once again registering voters.  It's unknown how
many registrations may have been tossed out, but another ex-employee told Eyewitness News she
had the same suspicions when she worked there.

It's going to take a while to sort all of this out, but the immediate concern for voters is to make sure
you really are registered.

The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee.
Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to

Probe of ripped registrations started...¿?
(Oct. 13, 2004) -- Federal, state, and local officials are gathering information about allegations of
voter registration fraud that were first raised Channel 8 Eyewitness News.

An employee of a private voter registration firm alleges that his bosses trashed registration forms
filled out by Democratic voters because they only wanted to sign up Republican voters.

The allegations have set off a political firestorm stretching from Las Vegas to Washington D.C.,
and beyond. 

As with everything else in this election year, it's now become a political football being tossed between
the two parties, with charges and countercharges, but at its core, there still remains the matter of
registration forms that were ripped up and tossed in the trash.

Who did it, and why? That's what official agencies will try to determine. On Tuesday afternoon,
Las Vegan Eric Russell and his girlfriend took a packet of documents to the Las Vegas FBI office
but left before filing a formal complaint about what Russell says was a deliberate effort to
disenfranchise local voters.

Russell worked for a company called Voters Outreach of America, along with 300 other people.
He says he got into a beef with the company over a pay dispute, and witnessed his bosses ripping
up registration forms that had been filed by democrats.

"They were thrown away in the trash. I grabbed them out," said Eric Russell. One of those forms
belonged to Daren Gray, who was shocked to learn that the re-registration form he filled out was
never turned in.

"I'm pretty mad, upset. I'm still gonna vote," said Daren Gray. Russell doesn't know how many
democratic registrations were tossed in the trash but guesses the number could be very high since
Voters Outreach of America operated in Las Vegas for more than two months.

The FBI confirms that it is gathering information about the case but stopped short of calling it an
investigation, saying it wants to talk to Russell again. Secretary of State Dean Heller issued a
statement that his office is also taking a look, trying to figure out what if any laws might have
been violated.

Nevada Democrats came out swinging Wednesday. "Most disturbing is that Voter Outreach
of America is being paid by the National Republican Party and we ask how can people have
faith in government if a national party is involved in trickery in depriving people the right to vote,"
said Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates.

The Republican National Committee acknowledges that it hired Voters Outreach of America to
register voters, but in a statement said it had zero tolerance for any kind of fraud.

Local party officials said there is no way the GOP would instruct the company to trash democratic
registrations. However, similar problems have been alleged elsewhere. In Washoe County, the registrar
says he too has turned over information to the FBI about Republican backed registration efforts.

In Oregon, the same company that was operating here has been criticized for its tactics in signing
up voters. There, it used the name America Votes, which is actually the name of a
Democratic organization.

Employees in Las Vegas say they too were told that the name of the company was America Votes.
"They confused us with the name. They told us one thing and told the temp force something else.
They told us America Votes," Russell said.

So, why has this company used the name of a Democratic organization as it signs up voters here
and in Oregon? It's a question Eyewitness News is investigating.

In the meantime, Eric Russell is about to learn what it's like to stir the pot. He has already been
attacked in other media accounts as a disgruntled employee who was fired and displayed a
violent temper.

Russell was a disgruntled employee. He admits that if he had been paid, he probably wouldn't
have talked. Even so, discrediting him doesn't explain the existence of the trashed registration forms.

GOPers get signatures forNadar¡!
(Oct. 13, 2004) -- Eyewitness News has learned Voters Outreach of America also has a connection
to Ralph Nader's presidential campaign. The independent candidate was in Las Vegas Wednesday.

Eyewitness News has learned Voters Outreach of America collected signatures in Arizona for Ralph
Nader and for Republican backed ballot initiatives.

Voters Outreach of America worked hand in hand in Arizona with JSM Incorporated, an
organization known for working on Republican campaigns. JSM collected signatures for
Nader in Nevada as well.

Democrats argue Ralph Nader pulls voters away from Democrat John Kerry, as both share
similar messages. Nader argues it's the other way around. "Why is John Kerry suddenly going
after big business and large corporate power? Because he wants to take away some of our
voters so we've had some good effect on that," Nader said.

Nader's potential impact on Kerry isn't lost on Republicans. In July, Republican consultant Steve
Wark admitted raising money for Nader's Nevada campaign in an effort to bolster President Bush.
While Wark was raising money, JSM Incorporated, a known Republican consultant group,
collected signatures to get Ralph Nader on the November ballot.

Nader acknowledges the company, but dismisses any Republican involvement in his campaign.
"That's a laughing mockery if the Republicans wanted to get us on 50 state ballots they could have
done it with a fifth of the money the Democrats have spent to keep us off the ballots. They have in
a few states tried to collect signatures we've refused to take them. That's the critical issue," Nader said.

But Clark County election officials tell Eyewitness News they received and certified Nader petitions
turned in by JSM. In a one on one interview this morning, Nader says JSM was working independent
of his campaign. "There's no coordination that would be illegal."

But a track record of JSM and Voters Outreach working on similar plans in other states is raising
questions about what is right and what is wrong when it comes to winning an election.

In August, Nevada democrats tried to remove Nader from the ballot, citing inconsistencies with
JSM petitions. They claimed names and addresses didn't match up. Last month the Nevada
Supreme Court ruled Nader could stay on the ballot.

JSM practices are also under review, or have been under review, in Arizona, West Virginia,
Ohio and New Mexico. In those states, JSM was collecting signatures for Republican candidates, Republican initiatives, and Ralph Nader

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