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Originally published July 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 26, 2007 at 5:32 PM

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Felony charges filed against 7 in state's biggest case of voter-registration fraud

King and Pierce County prosecutors filed felony charges today against seven people who allegedly committed the biggest voter-registration...

Seattle Times staff reporter

King and Pierce County prosecutors filed felony charges today against seven people who allegedly committed the biggest voter-registration fraud in state history.

The defendants, who were paid employees and supervisors of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, concocted the scheme as an easy way to get paid, not as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said.

"This was an act of vandalism upon the voter rolls of King County," Satterberg said.

In addition to filing criminal charges, Satterberg said state and local officials had signed a five-year agreement with ACORN that requires the organization to beef up its training and procedures for detecting and reporting fraud.

ACORN agreed to pay King County $25,000 for its investigative costs and acknowledged that the national organization could be subject to criminal prosecution if fraud occurs again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the worst case of voter-registration fraud in the history of the state of Washington. There has been nothing comparable to this," state Secretary of State Sam Reed said at a news conference with Satterberg, King County Executive Ron Sims and Acting U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan.

ACORN President Maude Hurd said in a statement, "It appears that a handful of temporary workers were trying to get paid for work they hadn't actually done. While we don't think the intent or the result of their actions was to allow any ineligible person to vote, these employees defrauded ACORN and imposed a burden on the time and resources of registrars and law enforcement."

The announcement of criminal charges came after the King County Canvassing Board revoked 1,762 allegedly fraudulent voter registrations submitted by ACORN employees.

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Hobbs told the board that six ACORN workers had admitted filling out registration forms with names they found in phone books last October. The canvassers filled out the forms while sitting around a table at the downtown Seattle Public Library, Hobbs said.

County prosecutors charged the six canvassers with one to eight counts each of filing false information on voter registration, and charged a supervisor with providing false information and making a false statement to a public official.

Two of the ACORN workers were also charged in Pierce County with submitting 55 phony registrations.

ACORN canvassers in other states also have been the subject of investigation.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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