After contacting more than 350 voters sampled at random, a California newspaper says it found 30 people in a single county whose party affiliation was switched to Republican without their consent.

Reporters with The Press-Enterprise explained on Sunday that they began interviewing voters after noting a huge surge of Republican voter registrations, including about 4,800 people who'd changed their affiliation to Republican.

"But voter interviews suggest that the per-registration bounty program, bankrolled by wealthy activists and large business interests, encouraged some signature gatherers to cut corners," they wrote.

Voters told the paper they they never consented to being registered Republican, and some of them claimed they didn't even know they were registering to vote. Some claimed their information was taken after they were asked to sign a petition, while others said they believed the forms were to sign up for doing poll work on Election Day. One person even said that they were promised a job in exchange for personal information, only to have a Republican voter registration arrive in the mail weeks later.

The story seems to confirm claims by California Democrats in Riverside County, who say that a Republican voter registration operation is wrongly adding voters to the Republican rolls to build the appearance of an advantage. That group, The Golden State Voter Participation Project, was targeted last month by the Riverside County Progressive Political Action Committee, which filed an official complaint with the county's registrar of voters.

That complaint contained affidavits from 133 more Democratic voters who say their affiliation was flipped -- including two top aides to retired Air Force Major General Jeff Miller, a Democrat running for the California state senate. Many of those voters shared stories similar to what was relayed to The Press-Enterprise, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting's California Watch. Voters claim they were offered free cigarettes, or even a job, in exchange for signing some quick paperwork.

A Golden State Project spokesperson told California Watch that it has zero tolerance for fraudulent registrations.


Photo: Flickr user D.H. Parks, creative commons licensed.