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The following article was posted on June 7th, 2012, in the New Times - Volume 26, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 26, Issue 45

More details gleaned in voter card investigation

BY MATT FOUNTAIN

A conservative volunteer group has been linked to the recent investigation initiated by the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder over approximately 900 voter registration cards turned in late.


VOTING MYSTERY
Ballots poured in on election night (pictured), but not everyone’s voice was heard this season. An elusive individual linked to a conservative group may be to blame for roughly 900 voter cards turned in late to the SLO County Clerk’s Office.
PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER

According to Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald, an individual identifying himself as Brandon Torchia collected registration cards from the campuses of Cal Poly and Cuesta College. The cards were turned in four days late and were therefore legally invalid. Rodewald said anyone who collects voter registration cards must turn them in within three days of collection. The person claimed to be a volunteer with Conservative Citizens Group, and provided a phone number, physical address, and e-mail address.

All of that contact information turned out to be bogus. New Times contacted the phone number listed—a personal cell phone, which was listed under a different name—and spoke to an individual who claimed to have no knowledge of Torchia, nor the Conservative Citizens Group. An e-mail to the provided address wasn’t answered.

Furthermore, a physical address provided for Torchia was in fact the address of the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

The listed URL for the Conservative Citizens Group initially funneled to an inactive blank page, which was later updated and linked to another organization called Citizens for Constitutional Government, which describes itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan group dedicated to reviving American democracy and education.”

There are no individuals listed as contacts on the Citizens for Constitutional Government website, though repeated New Times e-mails to each address listed on the website—from its executive director to its tech department—were unanswered as of press time.

The website was registered to Karl Geletich III. When New Times called a number listed on the site’s registration information, the phone was answered by an individual who identified himself as Brad Fenton. He described himself as a volunteer who was at that moment “videotaping the police” in case they interfered with other volunteers who were collecting voter registration cards in front of a Northern California supermarket.

Fenton said his organization had many affiliate groups, including Conservative Citizens Group, which works to prevent voter suppression and represents volunteer organizations across the state. He said the group has filed numerous complaints with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged voter fraud and suppression. A call to the FBI for confirmation wasn’t returned before press time.

Fenton said his organization’s “database of volunteers” didn’t list Torchia. He told New Times he would contact his executive director and get back to us. That never happened.

New Times was able to locate a Brandon Torchia in Northern California, who didn’t respond to multiple Facebook messages and phone calls to his home, nor a family member’s business line as of press time.

According to Rodewald, the Secretary of State is investigating the situation.