Update: Voter Participation Center President Says Romney Campaign's Investigation Request is 'Absolutely Wrong and Absolutely Outrageous'
This afternoon, the Voter Participation Center held a quickly arranged conference call to react to the Romney campaign's call for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to launch an investigation into the group's activities. The Washington Post, the Richmond-Times Dispatch and PJ Media have all published reports that the group is sending out hundreds of thousands of voter registration forms in many US states, and many of those forms have been addressed to the deceased, children, and even pets. VPC founder and president Page S. Gardner led the call with a statement, in which she said that the VPC is "Stunned that the Romney campaign would try to shut down legitimate voter registration," and that VPC is asking the Virginia attorney general to "refuse to investigate these lawful efforts." Gardner added that the Romney campaign's call for an investigation of the group "may rise to the level of legally interfering with Virginians' right to vote." Gardner dubbed the investigation request "absolutely wrong and absolutely outrageous." Gardner described the Voter Participation Center as "non-partisan" despite the fact that she is a long-time Democratic operative, John Podesta sits on the group's board, and the group receives its funding from leftwing groups.
Page continued her opening statement, saying that VPC has registered more than 15,000 voters in Virginia and is working in 28 states to continue voter registrations. She admitted that her group has had "small problems" with its mailings, but those problems "cannot be an excuse to shut down a legitimate" voter registration effort.
Asked if the group is complying with Virginia's request that it stop pre-populating its voter registration forms, Gardner said that the group is going to stop.
I asked her about the zip code issue, explaining that on the group's forms the return address for the state election board is correct up to the zip code, which is not the correct zip code but a zip code owned by the VPC. Gardner said that she did not understand the question, so I asked it again and directed her to our story. She replied that the zip code is "assigned by the postal service so they can track business reply mail." That does not explain why the zip code leads to a post office in Richmond, VA or what happens to the forms en route to the state elections officials.
Asked how pets and the deceased have been mailed the forms, Gardner answered that her group gets some of its mailing lists from vendors, who compile their lists from consumer activity such as magazine subscriptions. Some people subscribe to magazines on behalf of their pets or using their pets' names, those names in turn get on the VPC's list and forms go out in the mail to those pets and others who are not eligible to vote.