Published September 09, 2009
Federal and state authorities in Miami are still searching for five of the 11 people suspected of falsifying information on hundreds of voter registration cards -- including registering the name of the late actor Paul Newman -- the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told FOXNews.com Thursday.
Six people were taken into custody Wednesday as arrest warrants were issued for 11 workers hired by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- or ACORN -- on charges of voter registration fraud.
Florida state attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle said the 11 workers hired to register voters by ACORN in Homestead, Fla., submitted 888 fraudulent names -- which included names of people who were already registered voters, fictitious names, and the name of the late actor Paul Newman, who died in Sept. 2008.
Fernandez-Rundle said ACORN alerted her office after it reviewed hundreds of voter registration cards it suspected were fraudulent. She said that none of the names in question actually voted.
"While they were attempting to steal from ACORN, they were stealing from our electoral process and we just will not tolerate that," she said.
Fernandez-Rundle said the workers, who were being paid 10 dollars an hour to register voters, face anywhere from 2 to 37 counts of "false swearing in connection with voting or elections" and "submission of false voter registration information."
"They were attempting to justify their hourly wages," she said.
In a statement sent to FOXNews.com. on Wednesday, Florida ACORN board member Leroy Bell said, "We want to commend the state attorney for taking decisive action. Today's action demonstrates the seriousness we brought to the task of not only expanding the electorate, but also of protecting the integrity of the voting process. "
"Over the last five years thousands of dedicated people have worked or volunteered with Florida ACORN and succeeded in helping hundreds of thousands of Florida citizens -- especially African-Americans, Latinos, low-income and young people -- to apply to become registered voters. Fortunately, our quality control managers and the systems we developed ensured their ability to spot the isolated wrongdoing by these 11 workers who tried to pass off phony forms instead of doing their work," he said.
Bell added that the government should do more to modernize the voter registration system, saying ACORN would "prefer that Florida and the United States adopt a more modern voter registration system where getting everyone on the rolls is the government's job and mission."
ACORN's activities were frequently questioned during the 2008 presidential election. The group, which claims to be a non-partisan grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people, came under fire in 2007 when Washington State filed felony charges against several paid ACORN employees and supervisors for more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations. In March 2008, an ACORN worker in Pennsylvania was sentenced for making 29 phony voter registration forms.