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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Huckleberries Online

Nonprofit group raises clerk’s hackles

A nonprofit group working to boost voter registration in Idaho has left some Kootenai County residents angry or suspicious – and blaming the county elections office, which had nothing to do with it.

The Voter Participation Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group in Washington, D.C., mailed hundreds of voter registration forms already filled out along with postage-paid envelopes addressed to the elections office. The outreach was part of an effort to build participation in elections among African Americans, Latinos, unmarried women and millennials, the group said.

But some of the names on its list were those of deceased residents, former residents or people who apparently never lived in the county, elections officials said.

“Citizens are concerned that they or their loved ones are part of a scam geared toward voter fraud,” Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon said in a news release Monday.

The county elections staff received about 30 written complaints and 50 phone calls from residents who were upset or worried about the mailer, said Carrie Phillips, the elections manager.

But her office also saw a spike in legitimate voter registrations from the mailer. Phillips estimated that more than 300 new voter registrations resulted from the Voter Participation Center outreach.

“So granted, they were doing a good thing, they had good intentions. It’s just they’ve kind of caused a problem with sending information to people who are deceased,” she said/Scott Maben, SR. More here (subscription).

D.F. Oliveria
D.F. (Dave) Oliveria joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a columnist and compiles the Huckleberries Online blog and writes about North Idaho in his Huckleberries column.

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