PI Original Josh Kalven Thursday October 23rd, 2008, 2:33pm

Kirk Claims "Massive Voter Fraud Efforts Under Way" In Lake Co.

During a tele-townhall with constituents last night, GOP Rep. Mark Kirk used the notorious case of "Princess the Goldfish" to raise concerns about "massive voter fraud" occurring in north suburban Lake County, which includes a sizeable chunk of his 10th ...

During a tele-townhall with constituents last night, GOP Rep. Mark Kirk used the notorious case of "Princess the Goldfish" to raise concerns about "massive voter fraud" occurring in north suburban Lake County, which includes a sizeable chunk of his 10th Congressional District:

KIRK: What we do know is that one man passed in a thousand voter registrations and the clerk advised the press that it appeared 999 of them were false.  Pets and goldfish were also registered to vote.  And there appears to be massive voter fraud efforts under way. 

Here's the background on what Kirk is talking about. Partially filled-out registrations forms featuring the name of a pet were sent to some Lake County residents.  How did that happen?  In the case of Princess, the Nudelman family of Buffalo Grove used the fish's name when they applied for an additional phone line a while back.  Apparently, "Princess Nudelman" then ended up on one of the subscription lists used by the nonpartisan Voter Participation Center (VPC) to target unregistered female voters nationwide.  When VPC checked the name against the voter file and didn't find a match, they went ahead and sent the partially-completed form to the Nudelmans.  The family then sent the form to the Lake County Clerk with a humorous note explaining that the fish was deceased.  In short, Princess was never "registered" nor are there reports of anyone trying to register their pets.  Kirk is wrong to assert otherwise.

Goldfish aside, the rest of Kirk's comments suggest that he -- like Republicans on the national level -- may be laying the groundwork to dispute a close 10th District election on November 4.

More from the call:

KIRK: Illinois election law prevents many common sense checks from being made by county clerks. The big push, in the past -- I think, really pushed by a number of Democratic members -- is to not check very much at all. And that brings the kind of Chicago style politics into play. Some people say, "Well, we want to make sure everyone can vote, and just because they don't have a driver's license doesn't mean they shouldn't vote," and that's true. But if we allow mass voter fraud, then all of our votes don't count. It does appear that a number of crimes were committed in Lake County, so we're just launching this effort now.  And it concerns me how it's going to affect certain elections in Lake County. [...]

The Lake County Clerk has identified instances of voter registration fraud -- not voter fraud.  Furthermore, the 1,000 forms identified by her office as inaccurate or fraudulent have not been added to the voter rolls, so have no potential to impact the election. 

KIRK: In general, Democratic leaders are for opening up voting to more and more people with less and less checks. In an effort to, what they say, is to get more and more poor people to vote. In my view, any American citizen who is duly registered in district should be allowed to vote.  But old-fashioned Chicago style politics -- you've seen on the television now, ACORN registered one young man 72 times. It appears to be a direct felony under law. [...]

This incident occurred in Ohio, by the way.  As we've noted, ACORN has not been active in Illinois this year. Furthermore, there are no allegations that the ACORN employees who garnered the 72 registrations from one young man intended to have him vote 72 times.  Just like the goldfish example, there is no evidence that this particular illegal act could ultimately lead to "massive voter fraud."

KIRK: In the state of Illinois, each county counts its own votes. But it would make common sense to check their voter rolls to see if someone didn't vote in both Cook and Lake county. We will see a very large number of people in the coming election, vote both in the city, then get on a bus to Lake County and vote again. That is a crime, and it should be stopped. [...]

The Lake County clerk alerted us to this. I was in touch with the FBI and the US Attorney this morning. And we are in the middle of launching an investigation which I think is highly warranted because it appears that a number of crimes have been committed. This was the subject of several national television shows last night that featured this kind of fraud that's happening in Lake County. [...]

The bottom line is, they would very much like to -- if they can't convince you to vote their way on a subject then they would like your vote not to count, and that's not the American way.

If the potential for voting in multiple counties is so rampant and poses such a threat to our democracy, why didn't "common sense" tell Kirk to do something about it months or years ago?  Why is he just now ringing the alarm less than two weeks before Election Day? 

While Kirk points to bogus registrations caught by election officials, he doesn't cite a single instance of organized voter fraud nor offer any ideas for how to keep these purported conspiracies from occurring.  Neither does Illinois GOP Chairman Andy McKenna in his letter this week to Cook County Clerk David Orr.

A federal investigation of those responsible for the faulty voter registrations submitted in Lake County is well-founded and it's perfectly reasonable.  The claim that these registrations represent evidence of "massive voter fraud" is not.

Transcript compiled from a rough audio clip of the call, which you can listen to below:

Internal mp3

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