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Registering Voters: Add One, Take Away Two

By Jo Becker and Thomas B. Edsall
Thursday, October 14, 2004; Page A08

For months, Republicans have complained about allegations of vote fraud by Democratic-leaning interest groups registering voters.

Yesterday, the shoe was on the other foot.

Democrats seized on reports by local television stations in Las Vegas and Portland, Ore., featuring charges by employees of a private firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters that the company trashed Democratic voter registration forms.

The Arizona-based firm, Sproul & Associates Inc., issued a denial: "There was in fact no destruction of any voter registration forms." The employee in Las Vegas who made the charges "was fired" more than two weeks ago, according to the firm, which has received $488,000 from the RNC.

Oregon Deputy Secretary of State Paddy McGuire and Clark County, Nev., Registrar Larry Lomax said yesterday they referred the charges to law enforcement officials.

The dispute is the latest in a slew of charges that voter fraud and other dirty tricks in battleground states have been committed by paid groups engaged in voter drives.

Terence R. McAuliffe, Democratic National Committee chairman, contended that the latest allegations reveal the GOP's "systematic efforts to disenfranchise voters all over the country."

Republicans have decried the registration tactics of pro-Democratic groups such as ACORN and America Coming Together. Yesterday, RNC communications director Jim Dyke accused the Democrats of "selective outrage [that] does not apply to Democrat-aligned groups."

The Medical Divide

Nearly four out of five doctors support Democratic challenger John F. Kerry's views on stem cell research. But that doesn't mean they're voting for him. That's the conclusion of a recent poll of physicians conducted by Muhlenberg College's Institute of Public Opinion and the firm HCD Research.

It found that while 79 percent agreed with the Massachusetts senator's enthusiastic support for the research, just 43 percent said they plan to vote for him.

Forty-nine percent of the doctors surveyed said they're backing President Bush, who has emphasized the ethical quandaries raised by the research. Why? Three words: "Medical malpractice reform," said Muhlenberg College professor Chris Borick.

In Florida, Voter Deja Vu

A coalition of labor unions has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging Florida election rules violate the federal Voting Rights Act.

Florida requires newly registered voters to provide the last four digits of a Social Security number or a driver's license as well as check boxes certifying that they are not mentally incapacitated, have not been convicted of a felony and are citizens.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Miami late Tuesday alleges that the required information is duplicative or not necessary to determine eligibility. It asks the court to stop counties from rejecting incomplete applications because it claims the rules disproportionately disenfranchise minorities.

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