Voter fraud warning: Don't give ballot to door-to-door solicitor

Voter fraud warning: Don't give ballot to door-to-door solicitor »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- If someone comes to your door asking for a mail-in ballot, don't give it to them.

That's the warning from Kern County Elections officials. On Wednesday, an investigation was launched into a local complaint.

Chief Deputy Registrar Karen Rhea said at least one incident has been reported of teenagers going to voters' homes trying to collect ballots.

Rhea said a woman reported a situation Tuesday night in central Bakersfield.

"She was approached at her home yesterday by two individuals who said there were sent by their boss to pick up voted or un-voted vote-by-mail ballots," Rhea explained.

Eyewitness News talked to that voter. She said the pair would not say who the "boss" was, or what group they were working with.

"I kept asking them questions, and they wouldn't give me any information," the woman said. She said the two were young, they looked "school age."

The voter said the pair came by at about 5 p.m. The woman said they had a list with them, and she saw her name on it.

"From her description it sounds like a list that's available to campaigns that list voters who have requested a vote-by-mail ballot, but who haven't returned it yet," Rhea explained.

The voter said the boys had lists, clip boards, and bags. The woman told them she had not filled our her ballot yet.

"They insisted they should pick it up, and the boss would fill it out," the voter said. "They said their boss knows everything."

Rhea said organizations can buy voter lists, they must sign for a list, show identification, and have a legitimate purpose for the list. She said the elections office knows who got these lists.

"I know that the (Kern County) District Attorney's office has been given contact information for the various campaigns that were purchasing this list, and will be contacting them," Rhea said.

Who could have done this?

"I would hope that this is over-zealous staffers who misunderstand instructions," Rhea said. "I'd hate to think that someone is involving themselves and their campaign in fraudulent activities."

Eyewitness News called several groups that are now active with get-out-the-vote campaigns. Each group said they had no idea who would have gone to voters' homes asking to pick up ballots.

The voter who turned over her ballot said she was busy at the time, but quickly thought something wasn't right.

"It wasn't fair," she told Eyewitness News. The woman said she drove around her neighborhood looking for the boys and hoping to get her ballot back.

She couldn't find them, she thinks there may have been a car waiting for them at the end of the road.

Rhea said mail-in ballots must have a signature, and that is checked against the voter's signature on file. They will carefully watch for problems with ballots turned in at polling places.

"I want to assure folks that these ballots will not be counted," Rhea said.

Rhea said the case has been handed over to the district attorney's office for further investigation. Investigator Al Rogers told Eyewitness News this case could involve a number of possible violations, from misdemeanor to felonies.

"It depends on what they said at the time they collected the ballots," Rogers said.

The voter who gave over her ballot said it appeared the teenagers already had other ballots in their bag.

Rhea said on Wednesday afternoon the California Secretary of State's office will also investigate this situation.

Rhea said anyone who was contacted like this should call the district attorney's office at (661) 868-7614. If they turned over their ballot, voters should also call the elections department at (661) 868-3590.

If anyone sees a situation like this, please immediately call the Eyewitness News tipline at (661) 869-2929.