Earlier today, news broke that the Romney campaign is requesting a state-level investigation of a voter registration group in Virginia. That group, the Voter Participation Center, has been sending out voter registration forms to people all over the commonwealth, hundreds of thousands of forms per month. The Washington Post and the Richmond Times-Dispatch have published stories on the Voter Participation Center and the allegations that the Romney campaign has levied against it. But both stories barely hint at what the VPC may be doing.
The center’s registration forms, some of which have been addressed to the dead, children, even pets and felons ineligible to vote in Virgina, state that recipients are eligible to vote. They come with some personal information already filled in, and instruct recipients to send the forms in to the Virginia State Board of Elections via Business Reply Mail to an address pre-printed on the form. But where do the returned forms really go? A Virginia blogger at the Disrupt the Narrative blog received one of the VPC’s forms in the mail in June 2012, and posted screen shots of the form on the blog. Click the image to enlarge it.
Look at the screenshot of the form above. The address for the State Board of Elections is correct up to the zip code. But the zip code on the form will send it somewhere other than the actual State Board of Elections.
The group bills itself as a Washington-based voter registration group, and on the voter registration form gives its return address as 7109 Staples Mill Rd., #160, Richmond, VA 22238.
Where is that? It certainly is not an office. Click the photos to enlarge them and see.
The evident misdirection of the return address and the permit number registered in Pennsylvania all beg for an answer: Why? These returned registration forms contain real personal information including full legal names, date of birth, and even Social Security numbers. What is the Voter Participation Center really up to, in having forms returned to an address that it says is controlled by a state entity, when that is not the truth? Additionally, where are the completed forms really going?
The Disrupt the Narrative blogger inquired about the zip code discrepancy with the US Postal Inspector, and received the following reply.
The Business Reply Mail (BRM) piece, Permit # 78103, containing the zip code 23286 is a unique zip code for BRM in the city of Richmond. The plus 4 number (0508) identifies the station in the city that the mail goes to.
BRM Permit # 78103 is issued out of Denver, CO and is issued to the Voters Participation Center. VPC has many sub accounts who use this number in different states, such as Virginia.
The bogus zip code is not a mistake or misprint. Google mapping 23286-0508 leads to a Richmond, VA park, and a query to the post office nearby at 1801 Brook Rd. in Richmond confirmed that the return address resides within that post office. The Voter Participation Center appears to be spoofing the Virginia State Board of Elections. The Voter Participation Center appears to be receiving forms that respondents believe are going to the Virginia State Board of Elections, but are not. Why? How many states is the VPC operating in?
As I noted in the previous post, the Voter Participation Center is not a non-partisan entity. It is run by longtime Democratic Party operative Page S. Gardner and receives funding from the Tides Center, which is funded by Democratic Party heavyweights including Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). The VPC’s Democratic connections do not stop there. John Podesta, former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and current chair and counselor to the Democratic advocacy group Center for American Progress, is on the Voter Participation Center’s board. The CAP is among the many groups on the political left that receive significant funding from George Soros, the billionaire who was convicted of insider trading by a French court in 2002.
The Voter Participation Center’s questionable activities are not limited to Virginia. On June 21, 2012, the Tampa Bay Times published a lengthy report on the group’s activities in Florida. The group’s tactics in Florida are similar to those it is deploying in Virginia, complete with confusing forms containing personal information. The forms went out to 420,000 Floridians, many of whom are already registered to vote and were confused to receive official-looking voter registration forms from the VPC. The VPC has also been active in Colorado this year. According to a Wisconsin blogger, the VPC has turned up mailing out forms in Wisconsin as well and spoofing the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in a correct address/wrong zip code pairing similar to the method used in Virginia. VPC in Wisconsin also uses a return address that leads to a UPS box, again similar to the operation in Virginia.
Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin — all of these states are expected to be in play in the presidential election in November, and most polling shows a tightening race in all of them. A small number of votes here and there could make a very significant difference.
To date, no one has done a comprehensive review of the Voter Participation Center’s activities in other states. If you have received a form from the Voter Participation Center, please email me at bryanp — at — pjmedia — dot — com.
Update: The VPC has posted a list of the states it was operating registration drives in in the last quarter of 2011. They are:
Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
They left Wisconsin off the list, most likely because they did not anticipate the recall and that Gov. Walker’s victory would help turn WI into a swing state. If you live in any of these states, you may receive a VPC registration form.
Update: The VPC held a conference call to respond to the Romney campaign’s request for an investigation. I was on the call, and here is my report.