Dead people aren't supposed to vote -- not even in Florida.
Eugenia Huguenin says breast cancer killed her daughter long before a voter registration card with Michele Huguenin's name and supposed signature was filed this year in Palm Beach County.
Her name was on one of the disputed 106 voter registration forms gathered on behalf of the Republican Party that have spawned a statewide voter fraud investigation.
While the form with Huguenin's name on it shows her requesting a new voter card this year, her mother said her daughter was already dead. Also, the Coconut Creek address listed on the form was out of date, because she said her daughter had moved to Atlanta several years ago.
"She couldn't have signed it," Eugenia Huguenin, of Michigan, said about the voter registration form that is now among thousands under investigation. "I don't know how they got her name."
Others whose names ended up on disputed voter forms -- from a retired police officer in Boynton Beach to a nanny in Fort Lauderdale -- are also wondering how their identities got swept into a voter fraud probe that has prompted a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Too many voter registration forms failed to include basic identification information and too many signatures for different people looked too similar -- and that drew the attention of the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office.
"It was enough to cause concern," Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said.
That prompted a closer inspection of the 106 forms filed in August and September by a voter-drive company hired by the Republican Party. Elections officials found more questionable signatures, along with out of state residents requesting Florida voter cards. They also discovered addresses for car dealerships, gas stations, law offices and other commercial buildings listed as home addresses.
Some of the forms have since been verified as legitimate requests for actual voters.
But now nearly 2,600 voter registration forms filed in Palm Beach County on behalf of the Republican Party are under scrutiny and similar discrepancies on voter forms have been found in at least 11 Florida counties.
Carl Downes said he and his wife Deborah recently received a phone call from the FDLE telling them their names were among those on the disputed voter registration forms.
Downes, who said he is a retired police officer, said he and his wife never asked to join the Republican Party, as the form indicated. They have long been registered as No Party Affiliation, he said.
Downes said he and his wife never met with anyone asking them to change their registration and they "never applied for anything." And Downes said he would have remembered because the August date listed on the form with his name was his son's birthday.
"Somebody forged our names on voter registration forms," Downes said. "This was just done behind our backs. ... It's extremely upsetting. That's an invasion of my privacy."
Michelle Debroka was also surprised to learn her name ended up on one of the disputed voter registration forms.
Debroka said the Fort Lauderdale address listed with her name on the form was her previous home. She said she never met with anyone from the voter drive and did not ask for a new voter card, as the form indicates.
"I don't know where [they] got my name," said Debroka who works as a nanny.
Authorities are investigating Strategic Allied Consulting, the company hired by the Republican Party to register voters.
The signatures on many of the forms that a company representative submitted were so similar that it raised suspicions, Bucher said. When she started Googling addresses she found even more problems; many commercial buildings listed as residences. Bucher said it was as if whoever filled out the form didn't think the information would be checked.
"We are very careful," Bucher said. "We want to make sure everybody can vote. That's our job."
Strategic Allied Consulting blamed one former worker for the problems with the suspect voter registration forms found in Palm Beach County.
The company this week did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment, but earlier this month issued a statement saying: "We will continue to do everything within our power to uncover any unethical or illegal activity in Florida."
The former temp worker for the company, William T. Hazard, 50, of Boynton Beach, who Strategic Allied Consulting said gathered the 106 disputed forms, last month told the Sun Sentinel that he "did nothing wrong."
Hazard told the Sun Sentinel that most of the people he approached were reluctant to give their Social Security numbers and that he didn't know if people wrote down false information.
The Republican Party has cut ties with the company that gathered the voter registration forms and party leaders have cooperated with the investigation.
Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein contends this wasn't a Republican attempt at voter fraud; it was about someone trying to get paid for not doing the expected work.
And where does Dinerstein think the names came from?
"Somebody had a phone book," Dinerstein speculated.
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