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Conservative group: Voter fraud easy in Vermont

By Dave Gram
Associated Press / March 13, 2012
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MONTPELIER, Vt.—A conservative activist has produced a new video alleging that it's too easy to commit voter fraud in Vermont.

James O'Keefe came to national prominence with film footage of staff members with the low-income advocacy group ACORN allegedly coaching a man and woman who were playing a prostitute and a pimp.

Now he's targeting the fact that Vermont law does not require residents to show identification when they vote.

A video produced by O'Keefe's Project Veritas showed members of its team entering Chittenden County polling places on March 6, the day of Vermont's presidential primary, giving false names and being offered ballots.

It then showed the same people getting requests for IDs when they ordered drinks in bars or tried to rent a hotel room. It also showed two men being asked for ID when they requested a civil union license. O'Keefe said in an interview that portion of the video was filmed in New Jersey.

"Frankly, I believe what we've discovered is shocking," O'Keefe said in an interview Tuesday. "Not only are dead people registered to vote in Vermont, but the poll workers are giving out ballots in dead people's names."

The Vermont Democratic Party, through executive director Jesse Bragg, denounced O'Keefe's project on Tuesday, saying the only instances of alleged voter fraud committed on primary day were those done by Project Veritas. He called O"Keefe a "right-wing radical who's trying to create an issue that doesn't exist."

He also charged that the Project Veritas team appeared to have violated Vermont election laws in as many as three instances. One says "a person who knowingly gives a false answer or information" to an election official can get a $100 fine; a second says a person votes or offers to vote under a false name can get a year in jail or a $100 fine; the third targets someone who aids or abets false voting.

Secretary of State Jim Condos, Vermont's chief election officer, said Tuesday evening he had referred the matter to the attorney general's office. "I denounce any voter fraud and any assault on the integrity of our elections," Condos said.

O'Keefe strongly denied any violation of Vermont's laws. He said members of his team had not actually taken ballots from election officials but were offered them after giving false names.

"We broke no laws. We read the statutes. We're very familiar with where the lines are drawn," he said.

Republicans have been pushing around the country for state laws requiring people to show IDs when voting. Democrats have countered, as Condos and Bragg did Tuesday, that such laws discriminate against minorities and low-income Americans because they are less likely to have IDs.

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