- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2001

The FBI has ratcheted up its investigation into Missouris Nov. 7 presidential election and a separate March 6 mayoral primary in St. Louis, ordering local election commissioners to hand over thousands of documents in an ongoing search for voter fraud.
A subpoena in the FBIs continuing probe, issued without statement Monday, calls for the St. Louis Election Board of Commissioners to surrender voter-registration records and other documents. The records are expected to show, among other things, that dead people and a dog were able to cast ballots in one or both of the elections.
The FBI, along with a state grand jury, is looking to examine 3,800 potentially fraudulent voter registration records. Federal and state investigators also want to review all election documents relating to people who registered to vote between Oct. 1 and March 6; records showing whose voter-registration applications were rejected; documents showing who cast absentee ballots; and records of those who were turned away from the polls or otherwise barred from voting.
Investigators also are examining documents relating to 143 unregistered voters known to have voted in the Nov. 7 election.
The Board of Commissioners, which also has been asked by the FBI to turn over all of its related internal correspondence and e-mail, has until May 6 to hand over the documents.
"Voter confidence in the outcome of elections is essential to our democratic system," said Sen. Christopher S. Bond, the Missouri Republican who initially called for the probe. "Events in St. Louis remind us once again how important it is to guard rigorously against any and all attempts to exploit voting laws for political purposes.
"Apparent attempts to break the law in St. Louis are an affront to citizens who follow the law and undermine our faith in the election process," he said.
The FBI and the grand jury initially focused on accusations of widespread voter registration and balloting irregularities during the Nov. 7 election, including a petition prompted by Democratic Party officials to keep the polls open in St. Louis for an additional three hours. The petition, signed by a voter who died in 1999, was later overturned by an appellate court, although the polls remained open an additional 45 minutes .
Texas Gov. George W. Bush won the Nov. 7 presidential election in Missouri over Vice President Al Gore with 51 percent of the vote. But John Ashcroft, now attorney general, lost his Senate seat to the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, who had died in a plane crash a month earlier. Mr. Carnahans widow, Jean, was appointed to his seat. Despite questions about the vote and suspected irregularities, Mr. Ashcroft did not challenge the results. St. Louis high Democratic totals figured prominently in Mr. Ashcrofts defeat.
Questions also surfaced after the March 6 mayoral primary, when it was reported that at least three dead aldermen had registered to vote in the election. The primary was won by Alderman Francis G. Slay, ensuring that St. Louis would get a new chief executive for the third time in the past eight years.
Mr. Bond, along with the Landmark Legal Foundation, a Washington-based public-interest law firm, initially sought the investigation in November. They told the Justice Department that widespread voter irregularities by Democrats had tainted both elections. Rep. William Lacy Clay, Missouri Democrat, later charged that thousands of registered voters — mostly minorities — were turned away from the polls by Republicans.
Landmarks president, Mark Levin, said in a letter last month to Lee J. Radek, head of the Justice Departments public-integrity section, that shortly after a St. Louis judge ordered the polls to stay open longer on Nov. 7, prerecorded telephone messages from the Rev. Jesse Jackson informing residents they could vote late "began ringing into St. Louis households." He also said Mr. Gore personally called a popular radio talk show to say the polls would stay open late.
"If the citizens of Missouri are to have any confidence at all in the integrity of their elections, then the U.S. Justice Department must hold the St. Louis Election Board and anyone else responsible under the U.S. Voting Rights Act," Mr. Levin said.
FBI officials in St. Louis confirmed that a subpoena was issued but declined to comment on the investigation. U.S. Attorney Audrey Fleissig in St. Louis and Justice Department officials in Washington also have declined to comment.

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