A Florida woman was indicted on Thursday after officials said she filled in 10 voter registration forms with false information, of which at least six were Democratic and Independent voters who entered the Republican Party without their consent.
Ms. Cheryl A. Hall, 63, of Clermont, Florida, worked for Florida First, a voter registration group heavily funded by America First Policies and supported by President Trump.
America First Policies announced plans last year to spend more than $ 20 million registering voters in at least four battlefield countries: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Alan Hays, the election officer in Lake County, Florida, near Orlando, said that although Ms. Hall has been accused of submitting 10 false voter registration forms, he believes she may have submitted another 109 forms with incorrect information.
Some of the forms submitted by Florida First contained incorrect, handwritten information that did not match Ms. Hall's, which led him to believe that others in the organization might also have falsified voter information.
Mr. Hays said he could not speculate on Ms. Hall's motive and continued to investigate to ensure the integrity of the district's voter registration system. Florida holds its presidential primaries on March 17, and Lake County started voting early on Thursday.
"It has absolutely nothing to do with party politics," said Mr. Hays, a Republican. "If you behave badly, I'll call you."
imageRecognition…Lake County Sheriff's Office
Mr Hays said he had noticed the wrong information after three voters contacted his office late last month and complained that they had received cards showing that their party registration had been changed, though they had never been Made a change.
The registration forms that changed party affiliations were numbered Florida First, and when he contacted the group, the forms were traced back to Ms. Hall, he said.
Even though the forms contained the correct names of voters, their birth dates, social security numbers, and other details were incorrect and were automatically flagged as non-verifiable by the county election database, he said.
"It's just really bizarre," said Mr. Hays. "I don't know which part of her imagination was convinced that she could get away with it."
Ms. Hall was charged with submitting false voter registration information 10 times and released Thursday for a $ 20,000 bond, according to the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
At least six of the forms were Democrats or Independents, whose party affiliation to Republicans was changed, Hays said. The others had forged their signatures or other details, he said.
"We don't know what she wanted to achieve," said Lt. John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, adding that it "certainly doesn't look like it" that Florida First did something wrong. Ms. Hall, he said, may simply have "got off the rails".
No one answered on a phone number given to Ms. Hall and it was not immediately clear whether she had a lawyer.
She is scheduled to go back to court on March 30 and has not filed a request, the sheriff's office said. Submitting false voter information is a third-degree crime that can be punished with a $ 5,000 fine or up to five years in prison, Hays said.
America First Policies spokeswoman Kelly Sadler referred questions about Florida First's charges, but confirmed that the organization is a "major donor" to the Florida group.
Elicia Babac, Florida First State Director, said in a statement the group "is working actively with the Lake County Supervisor of Elections to ensure that each voter is properly registered to vote."
"Florida First will continue to work tirelessly to serve potentially underrepresented communities and give them access to voter registration services," said Babac, adding that the group is working with county officials to "ensure that there are no additional irregularities."
Ms. Hall worked part-time, Ms. Babac said. Florida First has announced that it will pay $ 15 to $ 18 an hour for voter registration buyers "who believe in the conservative principles of a limited government, keep taxes low, and that an overly intrusive federal government will adversely affect our citizens."
Mr. Hays said he saw Ms. Hall, a registered Republican, who used multiple voter registration forms to advertise at several community events.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mr. Hays said he wanted voters to know that even if unauthorized changes were made to their registration files, they could cast a preliminary vote and that polling officers would ensure that every voter turnout is counted.
"The real takeaway was," Guys, we want you to know that we have this situation under control, "said Hays." If you find that your record has been changed, the integrity of our voting database is still intact. "